KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Most people notice the massive home off Cunningham Road in Halls. It's the biggest home on record in Knox County. From Google Maps, the 25-acre lot of land looks like it takes up the whole block.
However, the inside of the home is even more notable. It includes marble fireplaces, Waterford Crystal and Brazilian cherry wood throughout 48 rooms. The home belongs to one of the wealthiest businessmen and philanthropists in Tennessee — Pete DeBusk.
He is best known for founding DeRoyal, a medical products manufacturer. He said he grew the business from Fountain City to manufacturing plants around the world. Locally, he is recognized for his philanthropic efforts at Lincoln Memorial University, where he serves as the chairman of the Board of Trustees.
He said he didn't always live a life of luxury. DeBusk grew up in a mobile home in Lee County, Virginia, in the southwestern-most part of the state.
"But, I thought one day I'd like to build a house," DeBusk said.
More than 20 years ago, he started building. It took 8 years of designing and planning to get the house to the point it's at now. He said crews built out 48 rooms, each with the highest-quality materials money could buy. Many of those materials were imported from across the globe.
"We have Brazilian cherry and mahogany wood throughout the home," DeBusk said.
Brazilian cherry is one of the hardest and most durable woods. Cindi DeBusk, Pete's wife, said she takes a lot of pride in the Waterford Crystal selections.
"Most of the chandeliers are Waterford," Cindi Debusk said.
But, the most intriguing part of the home is the marble collection.
"I love marble and I got marble from all over the world. Some in Afghanistan and had it carved," DeBusk said. " There's seven or eight different kinds of marble in the house."
That marble can be seen in two fireplaces in the home.
Photos: Inside Knox County's largest known home
DeBusk admitted that building out his dream home became an obsession.
"I got into it, got into building the house. It got bigger, and it got bigger. Then, it got really big and I thought, 'Lord, what have I done?' But I'd done it," DeBusk said.
It was a shock for Cindi, too. She remembers the day she first saw it.
"I was in awe," Cindi said. "I grew up in North Knoxville and the house I grew up in would probably fit in the kitchen, size-wise. So, I was just in awe of the marble and the architectural details."
Inside the rooms are some very special features, as well. In one of the sunrooms, there's a harp with a history so old, you can't put a price tag on it. There is also a chess set made of silver and gold.
"It's addictive, having big rooms is addictive," Pete said.
"I'm definitely addicted to tall ceilings now," she said.
However, taking care of a home this size requires more than just the two of them. Pete said they have three people who help maintain the home on a daily basis. They also have another team that helps maintain the landscaping of the 25-acre lot.
"We have to have a lot of help here with this house," Pete said. "We have some great people. Golly, they get to be part of your family you know."
But, at the end of the day, the parts that make this lifestyle opulent to most people in Knoxville make it feel like home for the DeBusks.
"It's home. It's just not a house. It's a large house with a lot of space and it's home," Cindi said.
"I'm not about to give up one inch of it. I like it. I like the space. I like the room. and it's very, very comfortable," Pete said.
Aside from investing in his home, Pete said he is also a big philanthropist. He puts a lot of his money toward Lincoln Memorial University including establishing three colleges — the DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine, DeBusk Veterinary Teaching Center and the Duncan College of Law.