New Facade for Bacon and Company (and Shonos in the City)

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

On a recent climb from the Old City toward Gay Street – or downtown to uptown, if you prefer – I noticed large glass panels disappearing from the front of a building. It’s actually a series of three side-by-side buildings which house Bacon and Company. Some people may know the building by the most prominent sign which is “William R. Moore, Inc.,” though I’m not sure a business by that name has operated there in quite some time.

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company has operated at this address, 200 W. Summit Hill Drive, for fifty years. More precisely, it hasn’t moved during that time, though the street was redesigned and their designated address probably did change. They manufacture, “custom embroidery, screen printing, promotional products, personalized gifts and other specialty items.” I’m told they do a significant amount of the work for UT sports.

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

The facade is beautiful above the first floor, but at some regrettable time in recent decades, someone felt the building would look more “modern” if it had large glass plates along the bottom. This decision included both buildings on the end of this small row, with the smaller middle building somehow avoiding the fate of the other two. As with many alterations, they can’t always be undone entirely.

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

The guys doing the work that day told me that the front of the building will be similar to the back of the 301 building which is a material that appears similar to stucco. From what I could see revealed beneath the glass plates, this is probably the best they can do, though clearly this would not have been the original look of the building.

New Facade will likely match the rear of the 301 Building seen here, Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

New Facade will likely match the rear of the 301 Building seen here, Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

I wondered what prompted the activity: Usually facade work precedes or follows a change in ownership. I was told this is not the case. It appears to be a good downtown citizen realizing that the building should be honored as best as is possible and they are trying to do the right thing. I also did not hear of a CBID grant or a request for a tax waiver, so I have to appreciate that. You may want to stroll down that direction and look at the work going on there. If you see someone out and about, you may want to thank them for what they are doing.

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

Bacon and Company Building Facade Work, Knoxville, January 2013

I’ll end with another make-over of another building: Shonos in the City at 5 Market Square. Apparently, a ripple effect from the improvements made to the rest of the Kern Building with the renovations to the Hotel Oliver and to the corner now hosting Tupelo Honey, Shonos should look very different in the near future. Work is proceeding inside and out and it’s nice to see one of the older businesses on the square continuing to invest.

Shono's in the City Remodles, 5 Market Square, Knoxville, January 2013

Comments

  1. Mary Holbrook says:

    These people have let the Cal Johnson building, which they also own, fall into almost ruin. And now they’re going to stucco their front facade. This reminds us that “old think” about downtown is still alive and well. Bacon & Co. could locate their t-shirt business anywhere in Knox County and sell these buildings to a developer who would do something wonderful with them. Instead we get “stucco.”

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Thanks, Mary, for the additional perspective. I sometimes tend to assume the positive where maybe I’m mistaken. I didn’t know about the other building. Like I said in the article, I’m not sure there is a better fix: the surface beneath the glass was not the original surface. I don’t mind some light industrial business being downtown but, as you said, they should be good citizens and recognize the changes downtown. I thought that’s what they were doing, but maybe I’m mistaken.

  2. I’m actually a fan of the black glass panels on the end unit.

    Bacon and Company would be a good name for a restaurant. Or a band.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      This is becoming interesting. So, I write they are doing something good. Mary doesn’t like what they are doing and you wish they had done nothing at all? Can’t wait to see what comes next. :-)

  3. What Mary is saying is not that she “doesn’t like what they are doing and wish they had done nothing at all” – she is saying that she wishes they would sell the building to someone who was going to do the work right the first time. What it seems Bacon & Company is doing is just putting lipstick on a pig rather than going the full mile and restoring the building to it’s former historic nature. Case in point: the guys told you “the front of the building will be similar to the back of the 301 building” – key phrase being “back of the 301 building”. My response would have been: “so the front of these buildings should look like they’re facing an alley-way?” This stucco isn’t a suitable material to use on the front of such a prominent historic building that has the potential to more adequately link the 100-200 and 300-400 blocks of Gay Street with the Old City. This renovation is essentially the same thing as a homeowner of a historic house that decides to paint over and cover up the half-baked renovations that were done in the 1970/80′s, rather than completely gutting all of those debilitating renovations and restoring the house to it’s former historic glory. Yes, the house will look better in the short-term, but long-term someone will need to come back in ten years and fix it again. I agree, Mary… sell the buildings to someone who will do the job right the first time and fully utilize the potential of these great historic buildings.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Thanks for the detail, Jimmy. I knew what Mary was saying – it was the other person who said he liked it like it was. I completely agree with wishing for a better rehabilitation, but I’m not sure that was in the cards at this point. It looks to me like the front of the building would have to be removed up to the second floor. I can understand a business not wanting to move after fifty years and not having the money for the full job. Not that that changes the fact that it would be best if it was done better. I do appreciate your explanation.

    • jennifer corum says:

      Isn’t all of the CBID zoned historic? If so, they should have sought permission for their plans from the Historic Zoning Commission, correct? For example, addresses on Market Square have to request to make changes to every awning, window, etc., so I’m thinking that would be good here, as well.

  4. I have to go with Greg on this one, the black glass has a much better appearance than any stucco I’ve ever seen! They should give it some connection to this area, Tennessee marble perhaps could have replaced the glass, but stucco! West Knoxville meets downtown Knoxville? Regardless, stucco just doesn’t seem like anything but a cheap band-aid. I’m surprised the Historical Society hasn’t chimed in.

  5. I’d have to agree with Jimmy and Mary. The back of the 301 building “resembles stucco”,but it isn’t (you can see all the paneled seams for the EIFS system in the light). If the base of these buildings had stucco as their materials it would be more respectable, but if the owner isn’t wanting to invest into a proper brick masonry work they should hold off and invest properly. I’m also wondering why this wasn’t under the CBID Historical Commission’s agenda recently either…..

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Well, Jennifer and Tyler, you raise a good point about approval – but I don’t think CBID is the correct body, here. I think it should have gone before the Downtown Design Review Board. I’ve missed their recent meetings, so I’m not sure if it was approved by them, or not. It doesn’t sound like it likely would have been approved.

  6. Mary Holbrook says:

    I feel certain that Dewhirst and Hatcher-Hill will restore the Penney’s building facade – including opening those fantastic arches – in spite of the cost. Would that the Dance family had some interest in contributing to the fantastic Renaissance of downtown Knoxville. Hope the MPC will weigh in on this matter and stop them in their tracks. There is/was matching money available for facade work in Knoxville – check out the intersection of Broadway & Central.

  7. John In Knoxville says:

    Thanks for covering this UrbanGuy. I go past these buildings everyday and had not noticed the work. I’ve been shaking my fists for years at the owners of these buildings. It is as if they are completely oblivious to the downtown evolving around them. I would really like to know if they have downtown design review board approval. You can’t put a satellite dish on your building without having first consulted those folks.

  8. George Kiley says:

    Just wanted to comment on the Bacon Co. and William R. Moore buildings. The addresses were originally 200 and 202 Commerce Street before Summit Hill project. The William R. Moore building is or was connected on the second floor to the Cal Johnson building. I worked at William R. Moore (formerly Deaver Dry Goods) in the early 70′s. The facades we see today were added somewhere around 1970. Both of those buildings had very nice store fronts before they were remuddled.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Thanks for the further information, George. Did you intend to use the word “remuddled?” That is an awesome use of the word! Welcome aboard.

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