This log building is a reconstruction of the home of one of Emory & Henry’s four founders. Tobias Smyth was a hard-working farmer and dedicated Methodist layman when, in the 1830s, he shared in efforts to start a college in the area. He made the first gift toward the college’s financial needs – a sum of $500 contributed when Emory & Henry was little more than a dream – and he served on the Board of Trustees from 1836 until his death in 1872.
Smyth’s farm was located about one mile north of the campus, and he was well-known for his generosity in providing bed, board and fresh horses for itinerant Methodist preachers who passed through the area. Smyth became involved in the founding of Emory & Henry when the Rev. Creed Fulton stopped to return a borrowed horse after having attended the church’s annual conference in Abingdon. Fulton had been named the conference agent to assist in founding a college, and, when Smyth learned about Fulton’s mission, he became very enthused about the possibility of having the college located in his own community. Smyth recommended a tract of land to Fulton and agreed to make a financial commitment to the cause if that tract were chosen – and it was.
Smyth family descendants have remained in the area to the present, but the log house was vacated around the turn of the century in favor of better lodging, and it gradually fell into disrepair. In the 1920s, the Emory College Community Club decided to save the log house and carefully moved it to the campus piece by piece. The construction is not identical to the original – the floor plan was altered to make the building convenient for modern-day use – but much of the flavor of the past is preserved in the log walls and the mementos scattered throughout. The building is extensively used for meetings, and it serves as an informal museum of college history.