(WBIR-Knoxville) Knox Heritage has released its annual list of the most endangered historic buildings in the Knoxville area.
2013 Fragile Fifteen (descriptions by Knox Heritage)
1. Fort Sanders Neighborhood
The Fort Sanders neighborhood is one of Knoxville's oldest historic districts and has been influenced for many years by market forces that are created by its location near the University of Tennessee, Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and Children's Hospital.
These forces have created a neighborhood that is a mix of residential owners, apartment complexes and uses that accompany these major institutions. An alarming number of properties in the neighborhood are threatened by deterioration, demolition or conversion to institutional uses.
Specific Properties Threatened:
Fort Sanders Houses & Grocery - 307 18th Street, 1802, 1804 & 1810 Highland Avenue
These historic structures on the southwest corner of the 1800 block of Highland Avenue comprise one of the few remaining dividing lines between the concentration of residential and medical uses in the Historic Fort Sanders Neighborhood. They all were purchased by Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in February of 2008. Though the houses are protected by Neighborhood Conservation (NC-1) Zoning and have been boarded up, the future of the historic structures is still uncertain. The buildings include -
307 18th Street- This Commercial Vernacular style building was constructed circa 1923 as the W.T. Roberts Grocery Store, but for many years it has been known as the 18th Street IGA. Roberts owned and operated the store from 1923 until 1950 and afterwards was owned by Fred McMahan, who lived on the second floor of the building.
1802 Highland Avenue- This Victorian style house was built circa 1891 for Ranson D. Whittle who owned and founded the Whittle Trunk and Bag Company; the Whittle Springs neighborhood is named for his family. From 1914 until 1950, William T. Roberts, owner of the 18th Street IGA around the corner, lived in the house.
1804 Highland Avenue- This Victorian Cottage was built circa 1898, and the first owner was Reverend Isaac Van Dewater.
1810 Highland Avenue- This Victorian style home was built circa 1895 for Dr. Henry Patton Coile, a prominent surgeon and physician, who lived there from 1895 until 1900. His son Samuel A. Coile, the first pastor at Fort Sanders Presbyterian Church, became the owner of the family home.
These four properties offer the opportunity for a new era of cooperation between Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and neighborhood residents. The hospital should partner with Knox Heritage and residents to preserve the buildings or sell the buildings to a new owner interested in restoring them. The best solution will be the retention of the neighborhood grocery while restoring the residential properties for single family occupancy. That outcome will further stabilize the neighborhood, as opposed to the permanent damage that will result from the demolition of these four highly visible historic buildings located in the Neighborhood Conservation District.
The White Avenue Houses - 1302, 1308, and 1312 White Avenue
These three Victorian houses form part of the southern boundary of the Fort Sanders National Register Historic District and Neighborhood Conservation District. They present a unified picture of the residential development common in the neighborhood 100 years ago when it was known as West Knoxville. Since that time development pressure from the University of Tennessee and the student housing market have threatened their survival. The current threat is a proposal in the University's master plan that calls for the demolition of the houses to make way for an academic building.
Knox Heritage is engaged in a dialogue with the University in an attempt to craft an alternative to demolishing these privately owned properties. We call upon the University to consider alternatives that will preserve these properties and the southern portion of the Fort Sanders Neighborhood. We also call upon the University to end further expansion into the Fort Sanders National Register District by instead creating denser development on land it already owns on the south side of Cumberland Avenue.
1302 White Avenue- This Queen Anne-style house was built around 1896 for Cooper D. Schmitt. Schmitt was a much-loved figure in UT history who worked for the University of Tennessee from 1889 until his death in 1910. He served as a professor of Mathematics, University Bursar, University Registrar and from 1907 until his death, as Dean of the University. He also played a major role in introducing organized sports to the UT experience. The house was also the childhood home of his son, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Bernadotte Schmitt. Successive residents of the home include Hal H. Clements, a lawyer, and Walker E. Mynderse, a real estate developer who is credited with promoting Island Home, one of Knoxville's prominent residential subdivisions.
1308 White Avenue- This 1894 Queen Anne-style house was built for James E. Ross, who was involved with Knoxville Marble; as ownership of the home changed over time, it housed Gay Street merchants and UT faculty. It's commonly known as the "Judge's House" since it was the home of Judge Charles Hayes Brown, who lived there from the early 1920s until his death in 1949. Judge Brown was a graduate of the University of Virginia who served as Knoxville Chancellor from 1920 to 1926. James Maynard, Jr., a prominent civic leader in his day, lived and died in the house. This is not the first time the house has been threatened. It became a preservation icon during the 1970s and 1980s when it was saved from demolition after community members protested its destruction.
1312 White Avenue- Prominent local attorney William M. Meek, the first owner of this circa 1896 Queen Anne-style house, lived there with his family until 1905. Its most prominent resident was Charles E. Ferris, who served as Dean of the College of Engineering at the University of Tennessee. Ferris Hall on UT's campus was named in his honor.
The Pickle Mansion - 1633 Clinch Avenue
The Pickle Mansion was built in 1889 in the Queen Anne style. It features solid masonry construction with a brick veneer wall covering of glazed brick. Typical of grand houses of the Queen Anne era, it boasted a hip roof with lower cross gables, a turret, elaborate attic vent windows, window arches, transoms and large front and side wrap-around porches.
The house was the victim of a disastrous fire in August of 2002 and suffered extensive damage. Past owners, John and Kara Haas, purchased the house from its previous owners, who were denied in their request to demolish the building. Haas undertook a necessary subdivision process which resulted in separate parcels for the Pickle Mansion, the Brighton Apartments behind it and a vacant lot to the east. Fire debris was removed and a design for completing an extensive restoration of the house's primary architectural statement was completed, but work to get the house under roof and stop its deterioration was not. In addition, the Brighton Apartments, which are also historically significant, were allowed to continue to deteriorate.
The properties that comprise the original parcel of the Pickle Mansion have now been sold to new, preservation-minded owners who have begun work to rehabilitate the Brighton Apartments.
The Pickle Mansion continues to deteriorate, but the new owners plan to begin stabilization efforts this summer. Knox Heritage and the owners are now working together to identify a financing package that insures the long-term preservation of the building.
2. Kern's Bakery Building - 2110 Chapman Highway
Kern's was established on Market Square in 1876. The Kern family sold the business in 1925. It was purchased by the Brown family, which kept the name but moved their bakery to this facility in 1931. Kern's became a well-known regional brand and the facility continued baking operations into the 21st century. The building, with its unique neon sign, is a South Knoxville landmark. The building and its large parcel of land are now for sale, and early interest is in the land for redevelopment without retention of the building or the memorable neon sign that featured a fresh loaf of bread being sliced.
Knox Heritage calls on any eventual purchaser of the property to commit to incorporating the historic building and sign into any redevelopment plans for this South Knoxville landmark.
3. Standard Knitting Mill -1400 Washington Avenue
This circa 1945 building is the only remaining structure associated with Standard Knitting Mill. Standard was founded in 1900 with 50 employees. By the 1930s Standard was the largest textile and knitting mill in Knoxville and employed over 4,000 Knoxvillians.
Standard eventually produced over one million garments a week and inspired Knoxville's title as "Underwear Capital of the World."
The future is uncertain for the remaining building of the Standard Knitting Mill complex. Located in the industrial swath of land between the historic Parkridge and Fourth and Gill neighborhoods, the original portion of the mill was in place along Washington Avenue by 1903. Later additions almost doubled the size of the complex, but the earliest portion was destroyed in the early 1990s. The current footprint still comes in at over 400,000 square feet and was the home of Delta Apparel until 2007.
The mill was recently purchased by Henry & Wallace, LLC, who have plans to rehabilitate the property. Knox Heritage is providing assistance that will encourage the preservation of its historic character while utilizing available tax incentives. A mixed-use development combining office, retail and residential tenants would have a positive impact on the surrounding community. Plus, its redevelopment will add to the city's tax base and spur on the renaissance underway in the surrounding historic neighborhoods.
4. French Broad River Corridor
The French Broad River was a significant settlement area for prehistoric peoples and was one of the earliest settlement paths in Knox County after European-related settlement began. By the mid-1780s, early homes and industries were located on both sides of the river. The French Broad was the highway for commerce and social interaction, with ferry landings on both of its banks. Francis Alexander Ramsey settled in this corridor, and the stone Ramsey House still stands today. There is evidence to suggest that James White built his first house in the area. In The Annals of Tennessee by Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey, the French Broad Corridor is described as the home of Alexander Campbell; the large Georgian style house he built still stands. On both sides of the French Broad are some of the most intact architectural examples of early Knox County including a mill, churches, homes built
using the technique of noggin construction, a cantilevered barn, log homes and early cemeteries and ferry landings.
The French Broad River corridor, because of its relative isolation and lack of urban infrastructure, has retained its historic places, scenery, breathtaking views and vistas and its glimpses of Knox County history during the 18th and early 19th centuries and for centuries before. Some of its buildings are well-maintained and still utilized by descendants of the families prominent in the 18th and 19th centuries. Others are vacant or deteriorating; if they are lost, a large portion of this portrait of early Knox County will also be lost.
The East County Sector Plan approved by Knox County Commission calls for protection of the river corridor's historic resources through historic overlay zoning. The Metropolitan Planning Commission is in the early stages of implementing this important tool, and Knox Heritage encourages them to make that process a priority in order to protect this endangered treasure in east Knox County from being destroyed by rampant development.
5. Tennessee Supreme Court Building - 617 Cumberland Avenue
The Tennessee Supreme Court Building was designed by the Knoxville architectural firm of Baumann and Baumann and was constructed with $4.7 million appropriated by the Tennessee legislature in 1951. The building was dedicated in 1954, and its noteworthy design includes large expanses of East Tennessee marble, glass walls and other characteristics of Mid-century Modern architecture. The building and surrounding site that cover an entire city block are currently the subject of a Request for Proposals for redevelopment.
Knox Heritage calls on any eventual purchaser to retain and adaptively reuse the courtroom section of the building, which is located in the front portion of the building facing Locust Street and includes its most noteworthy design elements. This feature lends itself well to adaptive reuse, while the site would be large enough to allow for additional construction to accommodate a new use.
6. Martin-Russell House - 11409 Kingston Pike
Located at Campbell Station on the site where David Campbell built a blockhouse in 1787, this brick Federal style house was built for Samuel Martin in 1835 (or earlier) as an inn. During the Martin family era, the inn gained popularity and was visited by President Andrew Jackson, a close family friend. Just before the Civil War, the inn was sold to Avery Russel, who converted it into his family's residence. During the war it served as a hospital for soldiers injured at the Battle of Campbell's Station. The house has remained in the Russell family for six generations and stood watch as Knoxville sprawled toward it, and the town of Farragut sprang up around it.
The Martin-Russell House has remained at its original location for 175 years, a rare feat for this area as other buildings have succumbed to urbanization. Its location was determined by the modes of transportation employed during the era it was built, and it still stands at a heavily traveled crossroads. The Russell family plans to sell the house, which makes its future survival uncertain. Even though it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, there is nothing to prevent a new owner from demolishing the house and building a commercial structure in its place. At a minimum, the house should be protected by local historic zoning or a preservation easement to prevent its demolition. That will provide the opportunity for it to become the focal point it should be for the Town of Farragut as town leaders look to enhance the community and embrace its history.
We strongly urge the Town of Farragut to pursue a course that incorporates the house into a town center style development that will enhance and define the heart of Farragut. Earlier plans, which have included moving the house, would remove it from its historic center and forfeit its National Register status. Knox Heritage stands ready to work with the Russell family and the Town of Farragut to preserve and reuse this rare example of Knox County's earliest history.
7. Historic Knox County School Buildings
Knox Heritage believes that historic buildings owned by local government can play a vital role in encouraging redevelopment that includes their rehabilitation. To that end, Knox Heritage has worked with allied preservation organizations across the state to garner approval of state legislation that will allow local governments to enter into contracts with private non-profit entities that wish to insure the preservation and reuse historic buildings; we encourage the Knox County School Board to take advantage of that legislation when seeking to dispose of historic structures. Knox Heritage looks forward to working with the Knox County School System to devise a plan for preserving our community's heritage while being good stewards of these valuable assets.
Specific Properties Threatened:
Knoxville High School - 101 E. Fifth Avenue
Opened in 1910, Knoxville High School's neoclassical design with Beaux Arts influences is an icon for the generations of Knoxvillians who walked its halls, including James Agee, Patricia Neal and John Cullum. Designed by the local firm Baumann Brothers and a part of the Emory Place National Register District, it was the main public school for white students who lived in Knoxville. . At the end of the 1950-1951 school year, Knoxville High was closed and converted into administrative offices for the Knoxville Board of Education. Today it is owned by the Knox County School System. The site is also home to the "Doughboy Statue" dedicated in memory of KHS students killed during World War 1.
Knoxville High School is showing signs of stress and deterioration due to years of deferred maintenance. Years of tight school budgets have required the Knox County School Board to make tough choices and, of course, the priority must be the classroom. Knox Heritage has assisted the school system and the East Tennessee Community Design Center in the process that will make the school available for private development later this year. We encourage Knox County to keep the building secure during this transition, and we stand ready to assist developers interested in preserving and reusing this Knoxville landmark.
South High School - 801 Tipton Avenue
South High was designed by noted local architect, Charles Barber, and was built in 1935-1936 as South Knoxville Junior High School. The school opened in 1937. Barber was the primary architect of 14 schools in Knoxville and Knox County prior to 1940. South High served as a junior high school and a high school until the last graduating class in 1976. The building sustained serious roof damage over the next three decades, and that water infiltration has harmed the structural integrity of parts of the building.
Preservationists and residents of South Knoxville began their efforts to save historic South High in 2002. In 2004 the Knox County School Board surplused the building to Knox County so it could be redeveloped as a community asset. County Commission voted to auction the building to the highest bidder in 2008. The high bidder at the June 2008 auction was Bahman Kasraei. Mr. Kasraei expressed his intent to preserve the building, but construction was delayed. A portion of the building's roof was replaced, but the rear of portion of the building stood open to vandals until the City of Knoxville secured the property this spring through its Demolition by Neglect powers.
The building remains vacant and continues to deteriorate. Knox Heritage calls upon the owner to restore the property immediately or sell it to a new owner with the ability to do so. If not, the City of Knoxville should use all available tools to insure its redevelopment by a new owner.
Rule High School - 1901 Vermont Avenue
Rule High School was named after Captain William Rule, a former Union Army Captain who went on to become the mayor of Knoxville, as well as publisher and editor of The Knoxville Journal from 1885 until his death in 1928. Rule High School was built in 1926-1927 and opened in the fall of 1927. The school closed in 1991 and is currently owned by the Knox County School Board. The school continues to languish in a deteriorated state, and the resources for its preservation are lacking. The East Tennessee Community Design Center is currently preparing a feasibility study on potential for reuse of the property, and the School Board is considering issuing a Request for Proposals to identify potential developers.
Knox Heritage encourages the Knox County School Board to continue its efforts to identify a new owner who will make the necessary investment to restore the property for a new use. In the interim, the School Board and Knox County should secure the property and identify ways to stop further deterioration that is increasing the cost of redevelopment every day.
8. The McClung Warehouses - 501-525 W. Jackson Avenue
These highly visible buildings on Jackson Avenue were originally built as wholesale warehouses and are a reminder of the era when Knoxville was one of the leading wholesale centers in the Southeast. The buildings at 517-521 were built in 1911, and 525 was added in 1927. The buildings were wholesale warehouses for C.M. McClung & Company, a regional wholesale and hardware company.
Over six years after an inferno destroyed half of the McClung Warehouse complex on Jackson Avenue, there has been little progress made to rescue Knoxville's most visible endangered buildings. The fire illustrated the worst-case scenario for vacant and blighted historic buildings. Three historic buildings were lost, at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage was caused and one thriving business owner lost everything and was displaced. The opportunity still exists to redevelop the remaining buildings and land into loft and retail space, thus improving the tax base for all Knox County residents.
The current owner, Mark Saroff, has been forced into bankruptcy, but the bankruptcy trustee has delayed a resolution for the buildings. Knox Heritage calls upon the trustee to act to sell the buildings to a developer capable of restoring and revitalizing these important downtown structures. If he refuses, the City of Knoxville should use all the tools at its disposal through the Jackson Avenue Redevelopment Area to acquire and resell the properties. This will encourage further investment in the surrounding Jackson Avenue Corridor.
9. Magnolia Avenue Corridor
The Magnolia Avenue Corridor began with the industrial expansion that followed the 1855 construction of the East Tennessee & Virginia and East Tennessee & Georgia railroads. Workers drawn by that economic boost located in newly developed residential neighborhoods east of downtown. The development of Lake Ottossee (now Chilhowee Park) in 1875 encouraged urban expansion farther to the east.
In 1890, Fernando Cortes Beaman, with William Gibbs McAdoo, extended an electric streetcar line to Chilhowee Park, with additional lines along McCalla Avenue to Burlington, and the conversion of a horse drawn line to electric streetcars on Washington Avenue. Park City became a strong residential area, with Chilhowee Park as a venue for concerts, fairs and large expositions, including the 1913 National Conservation Exposition which drew one million visitors. It also hosted baseball and football games, including the 1907 Kentucky-Tennessee game. Magnolia was lined with large homes, and schools and churches also located in the corridor, including Park City Junior High School (1925) and Standard Knitting Mills (1910). Exclusive apartment complexes such as the Aston (2736 E. Magnolia) and the Lakewood (2736 E. Magnolia) were also built in the trolley era.
The next era of growth for the corridor came after World War II when automobiles and their related commercial uses eclipsed the use of trolleys. Magnolia was designated a Federal Highway (Asheville Highway) and businesses such as the Pizza Palace (3132 E. Magnolia) and the bus terminal (100 E. Magnolia) are reminders of that transition.
The construction of I-40 split the neighborhood, separating Park City from other neighborhoods that had grown up along Broadway and were from the same era, and removed a large portion of the traffic that had created the demand for auto-oriented business. That isolation has continued; the corridor awaits reinvestment and redevelopment, with a focus on preserving the significant historic buildings that remain. The following properties have been singled out as important examples of the type of consideration that should be given to Magnolia Corridor properties.
Specific Properties Threatened:
Magnolia Avenue United Methodist Church - 2700 E. Magnolia Avenue
This 1927 building is the third home for the Magnolia Avenue Methodist Church; the congregation relocated to the corner of East Park (now Magnolia) Avenue and Harrison in 1902 and constructed the current building when the original church building on that site was destroyed by fire. Generations of prominent Knoxvillians have belonged to the congregation, including actress Patricia Neal.
Members of the congregation nominated the building to the Fragile 15 list to highlight the need for additional resources to maintain the important building and make needed repairs to its roof. In addition to church services, the congregation provides services to low-income and homeless Knoxville residents.
Knox Heritage has worked with the East Tennessee Community Design Center and the church to review the condition of the property and identify needed improvements. We call upon other local congregations and businesses to help with the church's efforts to stabilize its building and fully utilize its facilities.
Rabbit & Poultry Barn - Chilhowee Park - 3301 E. Magnolia Avenue
The Rabbit & Poultry Barn, built in the 1930s, incorporated wood salvaged from the dismantled roller coaster built for the 1910 Appalachian Exposition and reused windows from the 1910 Exposition Building. A section added in the 1950s housed the rabbits. The existing wood floor was laid over a pond and fountain that provided a location for fish and ducks.
During the 2011 Tennessee Valley Fair, the barn housed approximately 1,300 poultry exhibits and over 400 rabbit exhibits. The current Poultry/Rabbit Barn is approximately 9,000 square feet and is one of the most visited buildings during the Tennessee Valley Fair. Through this site, the public gains an educational awareness of poultry and rabbit farming.
The building is now in need of significant repairs in order to continue as one of the most recognized and visited historic structures remaining in Chilhowee Park. The building is owned by the City of Knoxville. Knox Heritage pledges to work with the City to determine needed repairs and cost-effective ways to restore this unique historic structure.
10. University of Tennessee
Founded as Blount College in 1794, designated East Tennessee College in 1807, then East Tennessee University in 1840, and eventually the University of Tennessee in 1879, this local institution is tightly woven into the history and geography of Knoxville. Its first home was on Gay Street, but in 1826, construction began atop "The Hill" just west of downtown. The Civil War devastated the campus, and its buildings were occupied by both Union and Confederate troops, but it survived, and by 1904, there were 16 buildings on the campus. The 20th century saw a rapid expansion of the campus as it overtook surrounding historic residential neighborhoods, and many historic buildings were demolished. As a result, even though the university boasts a campus with a 185-year history, only four buildings under its control remain that were constructed before 1900, two of which were originally outbuildings for private residences.
Recent efforts, such as the restoration of Ayres Hall; the completion of a Getty Trust-funded Campus Preservation Plan; and the nominations of Ayres Hall, Tyson House and Hopecote to the National Register of Historic Places, show an apparent evolution in the university's appreciation for its architectural history, but historic buildings on and off campus are still threatened with demolition or neglect and the preservation plan has not been truly integrated into the new UTK Campus Master Plan.
As UTK strives to enter the ranks of the top 25 public research institutions in the country, it should be noted that preservation is a priority for the majority of those top universities and a significant factor for students as they choose where they will study. History and preservation add a weight and sense of place to university campuses and can create strong bonds with alumni and donors considering financial support of those institutions. In addition, in the current economic environment, the maintenance and re-use of existing structures is a fiscally prudent path to take considering the amount of taxpayer funding used to finance construction on campus.
Historic buildings are valued and utilized by top universities around the world, and the University of Tennessee should work to change its financially and culturally costly "new is better" culture and see the value its historic structures can bring to its admirable plans to become a top tier institution. Knox Heritage is eager to work with the administration and the State of Tennessee to devise innovative and cost-effective strategies that will preserve the campus while enhancing the learning experience for students and benefiting the entire Knoxville community. Included in those strategies must be rehabilitation that is architecturally sensitive to the historic structures that are its subject, a diminishing role for demolition, and a commitment to ongoing maintenance that values the architectural features of the remaining historic buildings on campus.
Specific Properties Threatened:
Sophronia Strong Hall & Cafeteria - 1621 Cumberland Avenue
Constructed on the grounds of the former Cowan-Briscoe Estate, the first unit of this facility was built in 1925 and originally housed approximately 50 women. Partial funding was provided through an endowment by Benjamin Rush Strong, who left his estate to the university and wished that a women's dormitory be erected in honor of his mother, Sophronia. Five additional
units and a cafeteria were added to Strong Hall in 1939, financed out of general operating funds and subsidized by the Works Progress Administration.
The new UT Campus Master Plan calls for a major expansion of the building that threatens to destroy almost all of its original historic fabric. We encourage the university to revisit its design in order to preserve the most significant portion of the historic structure.
Melrose Hall - 1616 Melrose Avenue
Built in 1946 and designed by Knoxville architects Barber & McMurry, the building serves as a dormitory and offices. Melrose is one of the last great Collegiate Gothic designs at the university. It represents an important part of the university's expansion west of the Hill in the postwar era and reflects the increase in student enrollment following World War II. The UTK Campus Master Plan calls for the demolition of Melrose Hall.
We call upon the University to work with experts in the reuse of historic academic buildings to determine a course for incorporating the historic structure into the University's plans.
Henson Hall - 1618 Cumberland Avenue
Henson Hall was designed by Barber & McMurry and built in 1930 with a donation from the estate of Martha C. Henson, who left the university $200,000 for the completion of a women's dormitory. It housed about 150 women originally. In 1943, Henson Hall became the dormitory for Air Corps Cadets training for World War II. It now houses the College of Social Work. The building is threatened by possible demolition called for in the UTK Campus Master Plan.
We call upon the University to work with experts in the reuse of historic academic buildings to determine a course for incorporating the historic structure into the University's plans.
The Weston M. Fulton House - 900 Volunteer Blvd.
This two-and-one-half story bungalow is a reminder of the prosperous residential community, West Knoxville, that developed along Volunteer Boulevard (then called Temple Avenue) and the surrounding area. Weston M. Fulton built and lived in the house (then 820 Temple Avenue) in 1913. A native of Alabama, Weston M. Fulton was one of Knoxville's leading industrialists and was one of the founders of the highly successful Fulton Company in 1904. Fulton was vice mayor of Knoxville in the 1920s and was active in the Great Smoky Mountains Conservation Association. He also served two terms on Knoxville City Council.
In 1927 the house was given to the University as a memorial to Fulton's son, Weston M. Fulton Jr., who was killed in a car accident shortly before entering UT. The house became the Weston M. Fulton Jr. Memorial Hospital and served as the student health center beginning in 1931. It is likely this is the last Knoxville building associated with Fulton since his 1928 home, Westcliff, was demolished in 1967 and his century-old Fulton Sylphon factory was demolished in 2006.
The house is now being used as the base offices for the construction company that is building the new University Student Center at the corner of Cumberland Avenue and Volunteer Blvd. The Weston Fulton House is scheduled for demolition at the end of the construction of the new student center.
11. The Eugenia Williams House - 4848 Lyons View Pike
Eugenia Williams was born to Dr. David H. Williams and Ella Cornick Williams in January 1900. Dr. Williams was a prominent physician and one of the original financial backers who introduced Coca-Cola to East Tennessee. In 1940, Eugenia commissioned her childhood friend, John Fanz Staub, to design her new residence. Staub, a native Knoxvillian from one of the city's prominent families, is best known for designing homes for many of the wealthiest and most influential Texans, with a little over half of his design work located in Houston. He was also the architect for the well-loved Hopecote on the UT Knoxville campus. Miss Williams' Regency-style home sits on 24 acres bordering the Tennessee River and Lyons View Pike and features a three-car garage with automatic garage door openers, which was a novelty in 1940. In 1998, the house was willed to the University of Tennessee as a memorial to Eugenia's father. For many years after her death, Miss Williams' house was plagued by vandals and a lack of basic maintenance, but its character-defining details remain, and the house is still solid.
We strongly encourage UT to move forward with plans for this signature property and maximize its benefit to the University and the Knoxville area before it is too late. Specifically, Knox Heritage stands ready to assist the University in navigating the legal means available to sell the property to a private buyer interested in fulfilling Miss Williams' wishes that the house and property be preserved while benefiting the University and honoring her father.
12. Cal Johnson Building - 301 State Street
Cal Johnson, Knoxville's first African American philanthropist, built this State Street building c. 1898 in the Vernacular Commercial style; it is a rare example of a large commercial structure that was built by a former slave; the building originally housed a clothing factory. Cal Johnson was well-respected in Knoxville; he served as a city alderman during his extensive career, which included the operation of several area saloons and one of Knoxville's most popular and durable horse racing tracks. The building and its history could be a featured site in efforts to encourage heritage tourism related to Knox County's African American residents and their ancestors.
The building is threatened by long term, ongoing deterioration and a lack of maintenance. The owner has recently boarded up the windows and repaired the roof, but it is still in a precarious state of disrepair. The building is owned by the Jack Dance family.
Knox Heritage seeks to work with the property owner to make necessary repairs and capitalize on the current level of downtown redevelopment in order to spur the reuse of this important structure before it is too late. If the property owner continues to allow the building to decay, the City of Knoxville must intervene through stringent codes enforcement and application of its Demolition by Neglect authority in order to save this extremely important piece of Knoxville's African American history.
13. Isaac Anderson Cabin -Creekrock Lane - Shannondale Valley Farms
In 1802, Isaac Anderson's family constructed this two-story log house on their land in north Knox County. Anderson had recently been named the pastor for Washington Presbyterian Church, and during his tenure at Washington Presbyterian, he built a large, two-story log school building on the site. That school has since been demolished. Anderson named his school Union Academy, but it was known to many as Mr. Anderson's Log College. The academy operated there until 1812 when Anderson moved his school to Maryville and became pastor of New Providence Presbyterian Church. His school became the nucleus for Maryville College, which he founded in 1819.
The hewn-log Anderson cabin survived for the next 200 years before residential development literally encircled it and put its future in jeopardy. It now stands in the backyard of a modern suburban house.
Recently, there has been an effort to move the Anderson Cabin to the Maryville College campus in order to protect it and its place in the college's history. Although moving historic buildings is rarely recommended, Knox Heritage supports the efforts to move this building, since it is unlikely to survive in its present location, and encourages East Tennessee residents to work with the preservationists spearheading this effort to identify funding to relocate and restore the structure.
14. The Lloyd Branson House - 1423 Branson Avenue
This house was built in 1920 by noted local artist Lloyd Branson (1853-1925). In his later life, Branson developed the surrounding tract of land. The street was named for him. An American artist well known for his portraits of Southern politicians and depictions of early East Tennessee history, Branson was one of the most influential figures in Knoxville's early art circles. He received training at the National Academy of Design in the 1870s and subsequently toured the great art centers of Europe. He was a mentor to fellow Knoxville artist Catherine Wiley and is credited with discovering the important African America painter Beauford Delaney. Branson's work was displayed in major New York galleries and a highlight of his career occurred in 1910 when his work, Hauling Marble, won the gold medal at Knoxville's Appalachian Exposition. Branson died suddenly on June 12, 1925. His funeral was in the house, and he is buried in Old Gray Cemetery.
Knox Heritage has committed to purchasing this home, rehabilitating it and selling it to a subsequent owner and resident. Problems have arisen with the legal title to the home, and the City of Knoxville is pursuing acquisition in order to correct those title problems. In the meantime, Knox Heritage has taken steps to secure the home, repair leaks and associated water problems and maintain the lot. Knox Heritage encourages the City to continue its efforts to purchase the home and correct its title problems so that Knox Heritage can undertake its eventual rehabilitation. Continued neglect must be avoided so this house is not lost as have been the homes once occupied by James Agee, Nikki Giovanni and Cormac McCarthy.
15. Sanitary Laundry & Dry Cleaning Building - 625 N. Broadway
The Sanitary Laundry & Dry Cleaning Building was built in 1925. V.L. Nicholson served as engineer and building contractor, using mill work furnished by Knoxville Lumber & Manufacturing Company.
The building has been allowed to deteriorate to a point that it is endangering surrounding structures and detracting from the revitalization efforts underway in Downtown North, which has been designated as a redevelopment area by the City of Knoxville. Knox Heritage calls on all concerned to stabilize the structure and make it possible to rehabilitate this highly visible building. If necessary, the City of Knoxville should intervene with all the tools available through Downtown North Redevelopment Area designation.
Knox Heritage advocates for the preservation of places and structures with historic or cultural significance. Founded in 1974, Knox Heritage is the non-profit historic preservation organization for Knoxville and Knox County. It is governed by a board of directors with representatives from across our community. Knox Heritage carries out its mission through a variety of programs and encourages community support through education and advocacy.