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This Girl Grew Up in Shack with 11 Siblings, Using Newspapers to Stay Warm — Incredible Photos of Her House Now

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This Hollywood star experienced a childhood in poverty with 11 siblings.
She rose from humble beginnings to country music stardom.
Today, there is a contrast between her past and present living conditions.

A portrait of the singer on January 1, 1955 in Tennessee | Source: Getty Images

From a cramped two-room cabin to a luxurious yet modest home. This article delves into the journey of a music legend who never forgot where she came from.

Dolly Parton photographed in 1965 in Nashville, Tennessee. | Source: Getty Images

This famous singer was born on January 19, 1946. She is the fourth of twelve children and was born into a life far from the glitz of Nashville.

The celebrity’s mother was also a singer, who taught her Elizabethan ballads and church music. As for her father, she described him as a smart, hard-working man who had a good head on his shoulders.

 

She revealed in a 2016 interview that her dad built a life for them “with his hands and a strong back.” He never had a formal education and worked hard his whole life.

Also, like her, the award-winning star’s siblings dabbled in music growing up. The family had formed a band and she recalled singing in church with all her brothers and sisters.

Additionally, although the star disliked doing chores, she loved living in the misty mountains with her loved ones. The public figure admitted, “Of course, not everything was perfect but I prefer to remember the best of times.”

Dolly Parton pictured on January 1, 1987 | Source: Getty Images

The girl who grew up in a shack in the small town of Locust Ridge, Tennessee is none other than, Dolly Parton. Before the world knew her, Parton and her eleven siblings shared a small 1-bedroom log cabin in nearby Sevierville.

Dolly Parton's childhood home in Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheSmokes

 

Dolly Parton's childhood home in Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheSmokes

She and her family lived in a cramped two-room home during her childhood, which was a stark contrast to her later life. This house, devoid of electricity and running water, was where Parton and her family learned the values of love and kinship, beyond material wealth.

Dolly Parton's childhood home in Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheSmokes

 

Dolly Parton's childhood home in Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheSmokes

The cabin, although relatively small in size, has a kitchen with a table that can accommodate six people. It features a stove, a small pantry, and a washing basin positioned between the kitchen and a bedroom.

There is also a two-thirds wall that separates the kitchen from the one bedroom in the house, which still stands today in Locust Ridge.

Dolly Parton's childhood home in Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheSmokes

The family’s humble abode lacked basic amenities. They relied on fireflies in jars for light and used newspapers on walls for insulation from the biting cold.

Despite this, Parton, Miley Cyrus’s godmother, recalls never feeling poor. Instead, she cherishes memories of family unity softening the harshness of their situation.

Promotional portrait of Dolly Parton on January 1, 1978 | Source: Getty Images

Parton has often reminisced about the challenges of growing up in such confined quarters. “We were poor but I never felt poor. We always had food, a roof over our heads, and clothes on our backs,” she said.

Dolly Parton on the set of "Dolly Parton's Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love," 2016 | Source: Getty Images

Still, she and her siblings desired more but their parents would remind them of how other families had it worse. Parton also detailed how the family lived together, sharing that the kids had to sleep very close together, with several siblings in a bed. This and the shared responsibilities formed a strong bond between them.

She mentioned how crowded it was in their home, as the kids teased and fought a lot. But they remained a wholesome family nonetheless and spent much of their time outside. This was because the cabin was small, which made it difficult for all to enjoy being indoors.

As the fourth eldest of the kids, the star had to help care for the younger siblings in any way she could. Parton recalled how she and her loved ones bathed once a week. She used to bathe every night and it was a big deal for her in high school because she wanted to be clean.

Dolly Parton's childhood home in Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheSmokes

The cold winters were particularly tough as the Partons used newspapers for insulation. “The kids peed on me every night,” the actress said in a 1978 interview. She revealed the lengths they went to stay warm. “That was the only warm thing we knew in the wintertime. That was almost a pleasure — to get peed on — because it was so cold,” Parton added.

She washed every night and once she got into the bed, the kids would urinate. She had to get up every morning to repeat the process. Thankfully, the summertime was a sense of relief for the family as they used to go by the nearby river to wash.

When Parton was only nine years old, one of her younger brothers, Larry, sadly died as an infant. “There is a lot of heartache and stuff that goes on with that,” she said of his passing.

Dolly Parton's family gravesite in Sevierville, Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheDailyWoo

Dolly Parton's family gravesite in Sevierville, Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheDailyWoo

Decades later, another one of her brothers, Floyd, who was her longtime songwriting collaborator, also passed in 2018. He was 61 years old.

Dolly Parton's family gravesite in Sevierville, Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheDailyWoo

 

Dolly Parton's family gravesite in Sevierville, Tennessee | Source: YouTube/TheDailyWoo

 

Three years later, in 2021, the “Jolene” hitmaker lost another brother, Randy. She released a statement revealing that her sibling had died from cancer.

“The family and I are grieving his loss but we know he is in a better place than we are at this time,” Parton expressed in her statement. She also lost both her parents more than two decades ago.

Life has since turned out differently for the now-celebrated country music star. Despite her immense success, Parton’s residence reflects her grounded personality.

In 1999, she purchased the property she resides in, located in Brentwood, Nashville, for $400,000. The businesswoman shares the abode with her beloved husband, Carl Dean, whom she married in 1966.

 

Though bought at a modest price, this vintage-themed home has amenities and charm. The house features a tennis court and pool, illustrating her love for fun. It also includes a personal chapel and a farm which echo her strong ties to her rural upbringing and spiritual life.

 

During the recent pandemic, Parton showed more of her home life in many media appearances. Her vibrant and colorful kitchen serves as the heart of her household.

Last holiday season, the room had red wreaths and red and white gingham curtains. It also had festive decorations which added warmth and character.

The kitchen has modern appliances and white cupboards, keeping a sleek yet homey feel. Before, the kitchen had sported a pink theme, from her artwork to her cooking utensils.

 

Parton once invited fellow actress Reese Witherspoon to her house back in 2018. At the time, they worked together by filming the first episode of Witherspoon’s YouTube series, “Shine On.”

Reese Witherspoon and Dolly Parton appear on the "Shine On" YouTube series | Source: YouTube/FamousLuxury

The pair filmed the episode in Parton’s kitchen which was less colorful than today. The space features white wooden cupboards and a brown island with marble countertops.

The Grammy Award winner’s kitchen also has silver appliances including two dishwashers, a double oven, and a double fridge. Her living spaces are as inviting. One living room features a cream leather armchair, a small mirrored side table, and a bubble lamp.

Another showcases purple and white Christmas trees, creating a festive atmosphere around a cozy cream armchair. It also features a brown sofa with burgundy and brown patterned cushions, including a floral burgundy rug.

Dolly Parton participates in A Night Of Covenant House Stars 2021 Virtual Charity Gala on May 18, 2021 | Source: Getty Images

The white paneled walls are adorned with new artwork and the addition of candles on a wooden coffee table enhances the ambiance. Parton also has a dedicated music room, highlighting her storied career. It has a black piano, cream walls, green carpets, and floral blinds.

 

This room, housing her vast collection of awards, is a testament to her success and a large painting shows this. It celebrates her milestone: selling 100 million records worldwide.

This room has wooden furniture and patterned wallpaper. As for her hallway, it has light yellow paint and a wooden stair banister. She also has a retro wooden side dresser in the space and a glass candle lantern in the corner.

 

Dolly Parton’s roots continue to shape her. “Family is everything to me,” she said, expressing the deep impact of her upbringing on her life and work.

The philanthropist added that her family is her greatest love and that what she does, has an element of loved ones somewhere. She fills her music with tales of her Tennessee mountain home and the values she grew up with.

Parton’s journey was from a small, newspaper-insulated cabin to a comfortable, well-appointed home. It is more than a story of financial success. It shows the lasting power of family, resilience, and the ability to turn adversity into art.

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