A Look at the Fire Street Lofts and The Emporium (AKA City People Home Tour 2017, Part Three)

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 1), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Today we’ll take a final look at a rainy, but successful City People Home Tour. While we each probably had our favorites along the way, the homes this year seemed, to Urban Woman and myself to be attractive, interesting spaces. We thought the tour was a particularly strong one and we’ll look forward to next next year’s version.

Two units in Fire Street Lofts highlighted the range of homes available there. Built in 1925, the building is one of the newer constructions in the Old City, though we won’t be able to say that for long, with the advent of the Crozier, the first new construction in the Old City in more than a generation.

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 1), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 1), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Originally a warehouse for Daniel Briscoe and Company, it was a part of a garments district which saw the manufacture of a range of apparel. It renamed “Fire Street Lofts” by David Dewhirst and Buzz Goss when they redeveloped it as condos in 2006.

The first unit we visited in the Fire Street Lofts is in the basement and is utilized as a second, “city” home for a couple who lives outside the city. It’s basically a straight, “shot-gun” style home with one end devoted to living space, a kitchen in the narrow middle section, backed by a closet, and a bedroom section on the opposite end. The only internal doors lead to a bathroom and a closet.

While small, the unit has tons of exposed brick and a beautiful hardwood floor. It also has some access to light through half-windows at ground level. Interestingly, it has a “back door,” entrance into the alley between Fire Street Lofts and The Emporium. The owner said it works as a perfect weekend get-away to the city, but I could see myself being comfortable there if I were single. For a full-time home, it might be a bit snug for a couple.

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

The second unit in Fire Street Lofts is much larger and serves as a permanent home in the city. The first feature obvious when walking into the unit is the fact that beautiful wood dominates both the flooring and the ceiling. Exposed beams and boards above provide a perfect accent and a rustic feel to the home.

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

View of the JFG Building from Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

The master bedroom and bath is a beautiful room featuring exposed wooden support beams and a great private balcony offering a great view of  the JFG building and a wider view of a portion of the Old City. It’s the open design of the great room with living space, dining area, kitchen and access to a large balcony that is most breathtaking.

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Fire Street Lofts, 220 West Jackson (Unit 2), City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Windows line two walls offering great light to a room with tons of exposed wood and brick. Beautiful kitchen cabinets and countertops fit the feel of this very warmly decorated home. The windows offer views of Jackson Avenue, the Old City and the Jackson Terminal Building. It’s a great home in a very nice spot bridging the 100 block of Gay Street and the Old City.

The Emporium, 112 South Gay Street, City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

The Emporium, 112 South Gay Street, City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

The Emporium, 112 South Gay Street, City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

The final home on the tour was in the Emporium Building, which is actually two adjacent buildings referred to by the same name. Completed in 1902 and home to the Sterchi Furniture store, it is noted for the arches in one of the buildings. The 1919 viaduct project rendered its first floor to subterranean status. The space left by the missing building beside it has been utilized by developers as a common courtyard for residents.

Originally owned by downtown preservationist pioneer Kristopher Kendrick, the buildings were converted to residential properties above street level by David Dewhirst, who bought the property from Kendrick in 2001. The arts complex for which the building is currently most know was completed in 2007 offering studios to artists and a home to the offices of the Arts and Cultural Alliance.

The Emporium, 112 South Gay Street, City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

The Emporium, 112 South Gay Street, City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

The Emporium, 112 South Gay Street, City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

The home featured on the tour was one of the most unique. As owner Lindsey Cody declared as we walked in the door, “I’m not afraid of color, am I?” The answer would be, “no,” as the home is easily one of the most colorful and fun I’ve ever seen downtown – or anywhere that I can recall.

Multi-colored lights line the entry hallway and are plentiful in every room. Also present are b-movie posters, color palettes and posters from events around the world (one from Paris caught my eye)  and other touches that Lindsey proudly explained, may be found for a bargain. Lava lamps, faux fire places and other moving light sources also dotted the rooms.

Multi-colored rugs covered portions of the beautiful floor – which Lindsey pointed out were lovingly refinished by David Dewhirst’s crews. Colorful glass and earthenware served both as functional pieces and as decor in the open shelving. The backdrop to the kitchen is painted a lime green and even the coffee pot is a bright red. Function and decor really were indistinguishable.

The Emporium, 112 South Gay Street, City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

The Emporium, 112 South Gay Street, City People Home Tour, Knoxville, May 2017

Centering the main living room was a beautiful full-sized grand piano which Lindsey played growing up and which had been stored at his parent’s home. A highlight of the tour for us was when Lindsey played “a jazzy version” of the Stephen Foster song, “Old Folks at Home,” (Swanee River) on the piano. When the time came to move it in, he explained to David Dewhirst that he would need to live in the home for many years to make it worth the move. He expects to do just that. Originally working on the same block as his home, he now has a commute to west Knoxville.

And so concluded another successful installment of the City People Downtown Home Tour. Would every home be perfect for you or anyone else? Of course not. They come in a wide range of costs, some are rental and some are owner-occupied.  Some are closer to Market Square and Gay Street, others are further away. Some are near the bright lights or in the dimly lit corners of the city. Some are in quieter spots and others closer to trains or fire engines.

No spot is perfect for everyone. No home is perfect for any family. But if you are interested in living in the city, there’s a home for you.

Comments

  1. And thanks to all of our home hosts, volunteers, sponsors and patrons! We couldn’t have done this without every single one of you!

  2. Alan, on behalf of the Home Tour Planning Committee and the City People, thanks to you and Urban Woman you for everything you did to support this year’s tour. Between the pre-event piece you wrote, the ad space on your blog and being a home host, we couldn’t have asked for a better friend of the City People Home Tour. Your post-event recap was also fantastic regardless of what some negative nancy might have to say. You’re the best and we can’t thank you enough for your friendship. We’ll hopefully be back again next year folks so stay tuned!

  3. Hey Tom. I admire your candor and, perhaps as would others, believe you should example, visually as well as verbally, precisely what you purport was lacking in the images Alan provided.

    Bold,informed critics – brave souls such as yourself, always dutifully swimming against the tide – might understand their civic role to be that of wise, beneficent tutor to the rabble. So, Tom, fashion for us poorly informed, or maybe woefully misinformed, what your refined sensibility envisions.

    We quite obviously need your firm, disciplined direction.

  4. tthurman says:

    This is always an interesting series of articles, and this year’s installments have been no different. I’m glad people are open to the idea of exposing the rest of us to the type of renovations that have occurred in downtown from the residence side of things. Especially so as it essentially invades their personal space by doing so.
    Those exposed beams look incredible, and with so many of these being in such sharp contrast to the accepted norm, it’s really cool to see the variations of these homes that makes them all so unique.

  5. Karen S. says:

    Perhaps some may not understand the purpose of City People’s Downtown Home Tour. It is not to showcase decorator staged homes, or only homes that are for sale. It is simply to show the variety of residences and people who live downtown.

    As the tour website explains: “Retirees, college students, working professionals and others of all ages come together in one of Knoxville’s most vibrant and eclectic neighborhoods — downtown. There’s nothing typical about residential life in downtown Knoxville. You can live in spaces that are industrial, modern, classic, mid-century, traditional or urban.  You can live in a studio loft or a three-bedroom townhome. You can live in the bustle of Market Square, the serenity of World’s Fair Park or the historic hum of the Old City.”

    Home hosts generously open their homes so that others can get a glimpse of the downtown living that they enjoy. If you want to learn about downtown living, then every home is worth touring.

  6. The arts community has been in the Emporium since 2004. We were originally expected to move in in 2003. But as most construction goes, we got a little delayed. So I’ve been there since July of 2004.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Thanks, Bobbie. I was relying on the tour booklet and perhaps I misunderstood it. That makes more sense to me anyway as I’m pretty sure we were going to First Friday events there earlier than 2007. I appreciate the correction.

  7. Thanks for all the photos and descriptions of the cool homes. And big thumbs up to everyone who volunteered to have their home on the tour.

  8. I am sorry, but most of these photos from the downtown home tours have shown little that is even interesting, much less worthy of display.

    Most of the furnishings shown are appalling–oversized for the spaces and devoid of color or imagination. Some of these shots, except for the brick walls or hardwood floors, could have come from college dorm rooms.

    Perhaps rethink these home tours until there are more homes worthy of touring.

    Knoxville tends to get ahead of itself, thinking that one or two steps in new directions mean we have arrived. For example: the signs throughout downtown proclaiming our “Theater District” and “Arts District.” Really?

    The reality should be worth crowing about before the strut. Otherwise, it’s just embarrassing.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      You are so funny, Tom. Thanks for taking time to share. 🙂

      • Tom is a bit outspoken, but in some respects I agree with him. Downtown redevelopment until now has largely been inexpensive renovations. I’m quite concerned about what we are in for in terms of new construction.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

          New construction concerns me, as well. But to say these – some of them over $1 million – homes look like dorm rooms is trolling clear and simple. The homes on the tour this year are beautiful. The downtown home tour has been in place for over a quarter of a century and it is one of the reasons my wife and I moved from our beautiful suburban home, so I don’t think we ought to put the tours off, “until we have more homes wroth touring.” New construction? I’m very concerned that we get quality, so I agree with you completely on that.

          • Please read my comment again and pay closer attention before accusing me of trolling. My comments were about the furnishings, and I clearly wrote that “some”, not all, of the shots could have come from dorm rooms. I stand by those comments. If you want me to name the photos I was referring to, I can do that.

            Also, I did not state that the residences looked like dorm rooms. That’s your second deliberate misstatement. I realize the residences are often very expensive, and many are indeed striking, which makes shoddy or unimaginative furnishings all the more lamentable.

            I consider my comments a legitimate critique of photographs displayed to show the interesting and exciting possibilities of living downtown. Most fell far short of that goal, being neither interesting nor exciting.

            Like a restaurant, a play, or a movie, your efforts are subject to review, and when someone criticizes your efforts don’t try to cover by deliberately misquoting and then attacking the commenter.

          • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

            “most of these photos . . . have shown little that is even interesting, much less worthy of display . . . Most of the furnishings shown are appalling . . . rethink these home tours until there are more homes worthy of touring. . . The reality should be worth crowing about before the strut. Otherwise, it’s just embarrassing.”

            I can get it that you don’t like downtown homes. I could believe that you didn’t like some of the furnishings and, yes, you did say “some” of the photos could have come from dorm rooms. But to say the things I just quoted above with nothing positive at all is simply trolling or an incredibly rude and negative perspective. Not to your taste? Sure. But these homes did not deserve your initial comment. If you think so, then we disagree.

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