The Smith--Carter House in Madison, Tennessee, was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on November 29, 2018 for its association with June Carter (Cash), who made numerous significant contributions to country music history while owning and occupying this property. Tied to an over-arching story of ownership and occupation by Grand Ole Opry artists Carl Smith, June Carter, “Mother” Maybelle Carter, and the Opry’s long-time manager, Jim Denny, the nominated property served as the place where June Carter came into her own professionally as a significant country artist, a regular performer on the Opry, and songwriter for many country hits (including the Certified Gold single “Ring of Fire”). June Carter was also the major force in country superstar Johnny Cash’s personal and professional life that enabled him to become one of the most influential artists within the American country music genre.
The period of significance from 1952-1968 encompasses the property’s historic associations with June Carter and country music culture in Nashville. The start date of 1952 marks the acquisition of the property by Carl Smith, June’s first husband, and 1968 represents the end of June’s significant association with the property, when she moved out of the home to live with her third husband, Johnny Cash, at their Hendersonville house on Caudill Drive (destroyed by fire in 2007). The property retains strong integrity in the aspects of location, setting, feeling, and association and displays few changes from its period of significance.
During this time in her career, June performed regularly on the Opry with her sisters, their mother Maybelle, and Aunt Sara. Carter’s time with the Opry proved crucial to her career; this is the place where she befriended Elvis Presley (who occasionally toured with The Carter Family) and met legendary country musician Johnny Cash. Around 1961, her relationship with Cash blossomed, as the Carter sisters were invited to perform on The Johnny Cash Show. The Carters even performed alongside fellow country icons Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline at The Hollywood Bowl in 1962. When she was not on the road, June spent a lot of time in Madison with her family and invited other artists to her home, including Merle Kilgore to collaborate on a record. June and Merle Kilgore had developed a very strong relationship as co-songwriters.
June Carter married Johnny Cash on March 1, 1968; though she had not changed her stage name in the previous marriages to Smith or Nix, her stage name changed to June Carter Cash upon their marriage. The nominated property was June’s home up until this point, but she and Johnny moved to the family’s new lake house (not extant) on Caudill Drive in Hendersonville in 1968 (very soon after their marriage), and remained there for many years. June, by then a veteran female country star who had helped bring country music into the mainstream, enjoyed continued professional success alongside other crossover artists in the 1970s, when country music became a pop-oriented trend.
The property is also eligible for local significance for architecture as an excellent local adaptation of the Monterey Revival style of architecture. It retains strong architectural integrity in the aspects of design, workmanship, and materials. Under this criterion, the year of construction (1925) functions as an additional period of significance. The 12.87-acre suburban property features a two-story stone dwelling. The property also includes a horse barn and chicken coop (both contributing structures), and a non-contributing storage shed, pool, and putting green.