The home of Revolutionary War general William Lenoir, Fort Defiance was built in what is now Caldwell County in 1792. Prior to Lenoir’s ownership, the house was built on a fort site that was used by British colonists.
Lenoir moved from Virginia to find a suitable place to live for his large family. He found such a place in the Yadkin Valley, which he called the “sweetest spot on earth.” After the Revolutionary War, he purchased the 2,000-acre site, Fort Defiance. Construction started in 1788 and finished in 1792.
The house served from 1805 to 1880 as a post office, according to Richard A. Schrader. In that time, the home also served intermittently as a home to William Lenoir’s descendants. The 2,000-acre tract was divided among William Lenoir’s children after his 1839 death, and the family built their homes around Fort Defiance.
Almost 170 years after its construction, Fort Defiance was in such bad condition that William Lenoir’s descendents started the Fort Defiance Project to renovate the house and maintain the grounds. The Caldwell County Historical Society purchased the home in 1964 and began restoration in earnest. After 20 years, a grant from the state legislature, and several fund-raising events, the restoration project was complete and Fort Defiance was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Caldwell Heritage Museum, “History of Caldwell County (by John O. Hawkins) http://www.caldwellheritagemuseum.org/history.html (accessed November 18, 2011); Fort Defiance, “History of Fort Defiance” http://www.fortdefiancenc.org/index.html (accessed November 18, 2011); William S. Powell, ed., Encyclopedia of North Carolina History (Chapel Hill, 2006).