A look at Dolly Parton’s childhood and Tennessee Mountain Home
Dolly Parton was born into a world on the cusp of seismic change. She was the fourth of Avie Lee and Robert Parton’s 12 children. And she came into the world in a manner familiar to many East Tennesseans of her generation. She has traveled from crushing poverty to a rising musical performer, from popular singer-songwriter to actress, from multi-talented performer to global icon. Along the way, she’s proven to possess an uncommon head for business, a heart for philanthropy, and a spirit that crosses any and all social boundaries. She’s a great businesswoman, philanthropist and a legendary singer-songwriter.
Dolly Parton grew up in a small, one-room cabin in the mountains of East Tennessee with her brothers and sisters. The original cabin still sits in Locust Ridge. However, those who are curious about the home can visit a replica at her theme park Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, which was designed by her family members.
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Did Dolly Parton grow up in a log cabin?
Fans of Dolly Parton likely have heard her talk about her Tennessee mountain home. She sings about it in her music:
In my Tennessee mountain home
Life is as peaceful as a baby’s sigh
In my Tennessee mountain home
Crickets sing in the fields nearby
– Dolly Parton in “My Tennessee Mountain Home”
This famous childhood cabin home is a one-room cabin in Locust Ridge. The original cabin is still there, and the cabin at the Dollywood theme park is a replica. It was designed by Dolly’s brother Bobby and decorated with the approval of her mother Avie Lee. The replica home is a gift from Dolly. It’s an invitation for visitors to see what life was like in a tiny mountain community in the 40s and 50s. The striking thing about it is just how so many people could inhabit that small cabin at the same time. The replica of Dolly Parton’s home has a washing basin near the bedroom. On a table, tins and jars sit in the foreground of the floral wallpaper on the kitchen walls.
The sign outside the replica reads:
This cabin is a replica of the Parton Homeplace where Robert Lee and Avie Lee Parton raised Dolly and her 10 brothers and sisters. Most of the items on display are original family treasures. The original cabin still stands at its location in Locust Ridge.
Where was Dolly Parton’s childhood home located?
The original cabin sits on Locust Ridge in Sevier County, which still exists today. It would not have been considered out of place in the late 40s. But by the time Dolly turned 25, the only people living in such a home would be those in the most remote parts of the mountains, or someone clinging purposefully to the old ways. The fact that Dolly makes all this available in the park is incredibly giving to her fans but also somewhat telling. She knows that people are fascinated by her journey so this museum was created to sate that thirst. But the real home is important to Dolly, too. And that is not shared so easily.
At some point, her parents – being practical mountain people – sold the old home. There’s no point in hanging on to something they no longer need. But Dolly sentimentally bought the land back and has fixed the home up to return it to its 1950s state. She’s joked in interviews that she spent millions making that cabin look as poor as it did when she was a child.
Can visitors see the real childhood home?
It is in Locust Ridge, near Evans Chapel. But don’t expect to get too close. A tall fence surrounds the property, and trespassers are not welcome. But driving around nearby, the combination of the majesty and the accompanying isolation is tangible.
It’s easy to imagine a sunny-headed girl running among the trees and up and down the hills. It’s easy to see her singing a song, chasing butterflies and fireflies, and picking flowers for her mom. I can’t fathom the journey that Dolly Parton has taken since she left Locust Ridge in the Great Smoky Mountains. Still, I can picture the place where it all started with the parts she allows us to see. If you’re planning a trip to Dollywood, remember you can get your tickets ahead of time with Tripster. Have you seen Dolly Parton’s childhood home at Dollywood? Let us know in the comments. View the story version of this article here.
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RELATED VIDEO: A Look at Dolly Parton’s Childhood Home