There’s an undeniable charm that comes with pre-World War II American architecture, characterized by high ceilings, crown molding, hardwood floors, and ornate details. In fact, 12.8% of all housing units in America were built in 1939 or before, showing the popularity of the preservation of these units.

Owning a piece of history can sometimes come with a cost: Many old homes come with asbestos, lead piping, knob-and-tube wiring, and other outdated building styles that can rack up a hefty price tag to modernize. However, with more and more updated pre-war homes on the market, generally located just outside bustling downtown metros, investing in property that has withstood the test of time is an attractive prospect.

Stacker compiled a list of the counties in Tennessee with the oldest homes using data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Counties are ranked by the median year the structure was built according to 2020 5-year estimates. Ties are broken by the highest percentage of homes built before 1939.

The country’s domestic architecture is perhaps best characterized by a rugged individualism as opposed to the hybridization of disparate architectural elements. As Maya Angelou once perceptively observed, “the ache for home lives in all of us,” a phrase that has meant very different things to different people.

Modest or palatial, there is no shortage of noteworthy homes in the U.S. Log cabins constructed by industrious pioneers have dotted the landscape alongside traditional Native American dwellings ever since immigrant Swedes introduced them to the New World in 1638. The unprecedented personal fortunes amassed by the so-called “Robber Barons” at the close of the 19th century gave way to the construction of a staggering number of Gilded Age estates.

The ravages of time spared neither the sumptuous nor the humble. Stately mansions, often prohibitively costly to maintain in the modern era, were frequently neglected; simple structures were forgotten, discarded by their owners, and damaged by natural elements.

However, the tireless efforts of architectural preservationists and local historical societies have saved many of these homes from demolition, leading to their inclusion in the National Register of Historic Places and thereby safeguarding them for future generations.

Keep reading to learn more about which counties in Tennessee have the oldest homes.

Ballinindasierra // Wikimedia Commons

#50. Hardin County

– Median year homes built: 1984
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.3% (463 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 19.5% (2,749 homes)
– Total homes built: 14,109

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#49. Benton County

– Median year homes built: 1984
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.9% (358 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 20.5% (1,880 homes)
– Total homes built: 9,158

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#48. Hickman County

– Median year homes built: 1984
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.0% (531 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 19.0% (2,008 homes)
– Total homes built: 10,541

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#47. Wayne County

– Median year homes built: 1984
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.4% (397 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 20.4% (1,498 homes)
– Total homes built: 7,353

Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons

#46. Trousdale County

– Median year homes built: 1984
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.8% (212 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 28.2% (1,039 homes)
– Total homes built: 3,685

Walker Kinsler // Wikimedia Commons

#45. Hawkins County

– Median year homes built: 1984
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.3% (2,009 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 18.6% (5,097 homes)
– Total homes built: 27,406

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#44. Washington County

– Median year homes built: 1984
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.7% (4,694 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 24.5% (14,899 homes)
– Total homes built: 60,778

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#43. Claiborne County

– Median year homes built: 1984
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.8% (1,209 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 24.4% (3,795 homes)
– Total homes built: 15,539

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#42. Morgan County

– Median year homes built: 1984
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.3% (748 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 24.5% (2,217 homes)
– Total homes built: 9,055

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#41. Madison County

– Median year homes built: 1983
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.2% (2,672 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 18.7% (8,090 homes)
– Total homes built: 43,320

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#40. Van Buren County

– Median year homes built: 1983
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.9% (186 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 26.3% (709 homes)
– Total homes built: 2,697

Ɱ // Wikimedia Commons

#39. Knox County

– Median year homes built: 1983
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.0% (14,533 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 23.0% (47,708 homes)
– Total homes built: 207,611

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#38. Franklin County

– Median year homes built: 1983
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.6% (1,484 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 18.7% (3,651 homes)
– Total homes built: 19,508

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#37. Grundy County

– Median year homes built: 1983
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.6% (624 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 21.0% (1,355 homes)
– Total homes built: 6,467

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#36. Hancock County

– Median year homes built: 1983
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 12.1% (438 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 19.6% (707 homes)
– Total homes built: 3,609

Skye Marthaler // Wikimedia Commons

#35. McNairy County

– Median year homes built: 1982
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 3.5% (417 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 17.8% (2,142 homes)
– Total homes built: 12,066

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#34. Campbell County

– Median year homes built: 1982
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.6% (1,177 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 20.7% (4,393 homes)
– Total homes built: 21,207

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#33. Davidson County

– Median year homes built: 1982
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.3% (20,147 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 25.7% (82,291 homes)
– Total homes built: 319,739

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#32. DeKalb County

– Median year homes built: 1982
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.6% (638 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 21.0% (2,036 homes)
– Total homes built: 9,686

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#31. McMinn County

– Median year homes built: 1982
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.0% (1,641 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 19.5% (4,577 homes)
– Total homes built: 23,458

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#30. Johnson County

– Median year homes built: 1982
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.5% (678 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 20.2% (1,818 homes)
– Total homes built: 8,997

Cj4258 // Wikimedia Commons

#29. Henry County

– Median year homes built: 1982
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.4% (1,625 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 17.1% (2,947 homes)
– Total homes built: 17,270

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#28. Smith County

– Median year homes built: 1982
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.9% (877 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 17.0% (1,506 homes)
– Total homes built: 8,838

Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons

#27. Lincoln County

– Median year homes built: 1982
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 10.6% (1,661 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 21.7% (3,393 homes)
– Total homes built: 15,624

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#26. Decatur County

– Median year homes built: 1981
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.7% (327 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 21.0% (1,458 homes)
– Total homes built: 6,929

RealElectrical // Wikimedia Commons

#25. Hardeman County

– Median year homes built: 1981
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.2% (680 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 14.4% (1,589 homes)
– Total homes built: 11,023

AppalachianCentrist // Wikimedia Commons

#24. Greene County

– Median year homes built: 1981
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.1% (2,322 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 20.2% (6,596 homes)
– Total homes built: 32,655

Thomas R Machnitzki (thomasmachnitzki.com) // Wikimedia Commons

#23. Lauderdale County

– Median year homes built: 1981
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.4% (842 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 19.0% (2,152 homes)
– Total homes built: 11,343

Ichabod // Wikimedia Commons

#22. Giles County

– Median year homes built: 1981
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.2% (1,584 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 18.9% (2,678 homes)
– Total homes built: 14,156

Skye Marthaler // Wikimedia Commons

#21. Lawrence County

– Median year homes built: 1980
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.9% (1,252 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 18.4% (3,351 homes)
– Total homes built: 18,256

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#20. Overton County

– Median year homes built: 1980
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.3% (859 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 19.3% (2,001 homes)
– Total homes built: 10,385

Nyttend // Wikimedia Commons

#19. Houston County

– Median year homes built: 1980
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.9% (418 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 17.6% (747 homes)
– Total homes built: 4,238

Christina Blust // Wikimedia Commons

#18. Humphreys County

– Median year homes built: 1979
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.1% (730 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 18.0% (1,614 homes)
– Total homes built: 8,983

AppalachianCentrist // Wikimedia Commons

#17. Hamblen County

– Median year homes built: 1978
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 2.8% (766 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 12.4% (3,368 homes)
– Total homes built: 27,240

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#16. Warren County

– Median year homes built: 1978
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 5.0% (903 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 14.9% (2,688 homes)
– Total homes built: 18,018

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#15. Roane County

– Median year homes built: 1978
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.8% (1,991 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 17.8% (4,568 homes)
– Total homes built: 25,690

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#14. Hamilton County

– Median year homes built: 1978
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.2% (13,383 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 21.9% (35,797 homes)
– Total homes built: 163,605

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#13. Weakley County

– Median year homes built: 1978
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.4% (1,306 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 17.8% (2,775 homes)
– Total homes built: 15,613

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#12. Carter County

– Median year homes built: 1978
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 11.1% (3,124 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 15.7% (4,425 homes)
– Total homes built: 28,236

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#11. Carroll County

– Median year homes built: 1977
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.6% (881 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 15.1% (2,004 homes)
– Total homes built: 13,256

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#10. Haywood County

– Median year homes built: 1977
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.4% (705 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 16.5% (1,391 homes)
– Total homes built: 8,419

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#9. Anderson County

– Median year homes built: 1976
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 4.4% (1,545 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 14.5% (5,072 homes)
– Total homes built: 35,057

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#8. Shelby County

– Median year homes built: 1976
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.0% (24,236 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 15.2% (61,822 homes)
– Total homes built: 406,026

GamblinMonkey // Wikimedia Commons

#7. Dyer County

– Median year homes built: 1976
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 7.5% (1,268 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 12.9% (2,188 homes)
– Total homes built: 16,933

Flickr user chiacomo // Wikimedia Commons

#6. Lake County

– Median year homes built: 1976
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.3% (216 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 13.5% (351 homes)
– Total homes built: 2,592

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Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#5. Crockett County

– Median year homes built: 1976
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.5% (611 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 14.0% (900 homes)
– Total homes built: 6,427

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#4. Unicoi County

– Median year homes built: 1976
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 13.2% (1,179 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 14.1% (1,257 homes)
– Total homes built: 8,914

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#3. Sullivan County

– Median year homes built: 1975
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 6.9% (5,224 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 14.4% (10,875 homes)
– Total homes built: 75,518

Brian Stansberry // Wikimedia Commons

#2. Gibson County

– Median year homes built: 1975
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 8.0% (1,804 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 19.8% (4,479 homes)
– Total homes built: 22,662

Thomas R Machnitzki (thomasmachnitzki.com) // Wikimedia Commons

#1. Obion County

– Median year homes built: 1974
– Homes built 1939 or earlier: 9.3% (1,366 homes)
– Homes built since 2000: 12.9% (1,885 homes)
– Total homes built: 14,615