Photography by Lauren Abbott
The Ames Plantation’s Brick Stables is one of the finest stables in Tennessee. The stables were completed in 1913 by Hobart Ames. It houses 21 stalls, ten stalls that Mrs. Ames occupied with her horses on her wing of the stables, and ten additional stalls on the adjoining wing Mr. Ames utilized. On Mr. Ames’ wing there is an enclosed Stallion stall. There are also five standing stalls on each wing where fellow field trial guests could rest their horses while they visited or ate lunch with Mr. Ames.
The Brick Stables are just as they sound, built inside and out with brick. There are long brick isleways with original wood beams that support the structure and stalls. The original brass handles and hardware all remain on the stall doors and throughout the 21 stall barn. The original glass and wood cabinet in the tack room showcases Mrs. Ames’ side saddles, and carriage horse harnesses and tack. One of the first telephones in Fayette County, Tenn. can be found in the tack room as well. This telephone went directly to the Ames Manor home and was installed in the late teens.
The center of the barn houses the Ames’ carriages. The Brick Stables was and still is an advanced engineering design. Mr. Ames did not want center support beams in the carriage room. They wanted to move carriages in and out with ease, without maneuvering around beams.
In the upstairs of the barn, above the carriage room, large steel rods are braced though massive wood beams supporting the entire two story structure in place from above, rather than below. The advancement of engineering and architecture was well before its time when it was completed in the early 1900s.
The barn is still a working barn today. During the National Championships the first light one can see from the Ames Manor home is the glowing lights projecting through the stables’ windows. The Brick Stables is maintained by the Ames staff. Chris Weatherly restored the wood doors and supports restoration projects needed in the stables. All restoration projects maintain the historic integrity of the structure and its original design and build.
The stables is known to be one of the warmest places on the Ames property during cold winter days. It is well insulated and protects horses and their riders from bitter winds and icy weather that typically arrives just in time for the National Championship.
In the summer the stables are well ventilated, allowing heat to escape and flow from the top cupolas. It was designed to be warm during the winter and cool and breezy during the hot southern summers.
Electricity was obtained in the 1930s. Prior to rural electricity, Mr. Ames had a gasoline powered generator that lit the stables. The original electricity stayed in place until 2007 when the original tube and knob wiring was re-wired.
In the upstairs of the stables there are massive grain bins that stored feed throughout the year. These grain bins were built with sloped floors so the grain would flow with gravity down into the stables. Two rooms are found upstairs as well. These were living quarters for the stable workers to keep the stables in pristine condition.
To finish off the intentional design of the stables there is a horse and dog cemetery about 200 yards from the stables. The adored companions found their final resting places in view of the grand stables where they had the opportunity and privilege to live.