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1905 doctor’s office still stands as a reminder of past

here was a time that anyone in Neva or Maymead that was suffering from pneumonia was referred to Doctor Wiley Wagner Vaught. Throughout the teens, 20s, and 30s, Dr. Vaught became famous for being able to treat the illness, and his little two-room office was consistently filled with people suffering from all manner of ailments. Now, 75 years after the last patient walked through its doors, the office and the doctor who built it are being honored by being placed on both the national and state register of historic places.

Vaught received his medical training from the Tennessee Medical College in Knoxville, where he graduated in 1903. He began serving in Johnson County that year and stayed until 1935, when he moved to Johnson City, and ultimately Florida. Dr. Vaught loved his profession and never lost interest in it his whole life. On the night before he died, at 100 years old, he helped deliver a baby. Although capable in all aspects of the medical field, Vaught’s specialty was pneumonia, and his reputation for handling patients suffering with it went unmatched.

The doctor’s office, located on W.W. Vaught Lane just off of Dug Hill Road near Mountain City, was originally built in 1905. After receiving his license in 1903, Vaught worked under an older doctor practicing in Shouns, named Joseph Donnelly. After two years under his mentor, the young doctor decided to begin his own practice and in 1905 he built his office from lumber on his family’s farm in Maymead.

In addition to keeping office hours, Vaught made a regular house call circuit on his horse, Maude. Regardless of bad weather, the doctor made his rounds on the old mare, which lived out her life on his farm. By 1914 when cars were just becoming more popular, Vaught purchase his own gas pump and installed it beside his office. At the time that Vaught purchased his own car, there were no gas stations in Johnson County. The old pump still stands near the building and is included on the historic register.

The office itself is a simple but efficient building. It is made up of two rooms separated by a partition wall, setting on brick piers and containing a simple brick chimney for the stove that used to heat the building. Stepping in off the little front porch the patient entered the waiting room. Slightly larger than the examination room, the interior walls and ceiling are still covered with the original wallpaper that was put up by Vaught’s wife, Elizabeth.

Having waited for the doctor to see them, the patient entered the exam room. Handmade bookshelves are fastened to the wall above a simple countertop. A wall mounted sink was located in the corner of the room and handmade cabinets lined the walls. The original light fixtures still hang in the ceiling. The front window of the office is engraved and reads, “W.W. Vaught M.D. Office.”

Although simple, the building is a beautiful example of traditional architecture and the fact that it has remained intact even though it has been unused for more than half a century makes it a unique location. The grounds that the office sits on were a part of the original Wagner farm, which ultimately ended up in the hands of Vaught’s mother, Rachel Wagner Vaught. The large farmhouse that sits near the office was the doctor’s birthplace in 1874. The original farm was eventually sold, and the office is now located on its own .02 acre plot.
For complete details please pick up your copy of this weeks, The Tomahawk, available at local newsstands today!