Mary Boyce Temple House, Brian Pittman and Fun to the Rafters

Mary Boyce Temple House, Knox Heritage Even, Henly and Hill, Knoxville
Knox Heritage Open House at Mary Boyce Temple House

One of the privileges of belonging to Knox Heritage is the opportunity to see restoration and/or preservation projects while they are in the process of being completed. Past tours have included the S and W Grand and the Daylight Building. This past Friday night members were given an opportunity to tour the Mary Boyce Temple house at the corner of Hill and Henley. A great amount of work has been completed by and under the direction of Brian Pittman a local architect who fell in love with the house as a small child.

Brian Pittman tells Restoration Stories, Mary Boyce Temple House, Knoxville
One of the two original fireplaces remaining in the Mary Boyce Temple House

Second Original Fireplace

Returning a building such as this to it’s original grandeur isn’t easy. Brian alluded to the expense as well as the difficulty of encouraging the people who had taken up residence on the premises that they would need to go elsewhere. Drug use and prostitution were daily occurrences in the building. Brian said he, “explained to the prostitute that she could no longer work there . . . and I bought her a bowl of soup.” He said that he once walked in on two people smoking crack in the building.

More than the exotic people he encountered, Brian talked of his attempts to restore the building to its original beauty. This meant removing the fire escape, as well as additions to the inside of the house which compromised its original integrity. It is definitely a labor of love and a very expensive one.

View of Henly Street Bridge and Tennessee River from Mary Boyce Temple House

 In addition to being an architect, Brian is a wonderful artist. His drawings of cathedrals are very well known to anyone who has walked past the Graffiti wall on Wall Avenue in recent years. Now featured in local galleries, proceeds from his drawings go toward the renovation work – certainly a cause worth supporting.

Brian Pittman talks to guests outside the Mary Boyce Temple House

A large crowd had a great time, Knox Heritage Open House, Mary Boyce Temple House

So what do you need to do if you support this kind of work? Please join Knox Heritage (or make a contribution) and, if you are able, buy a work of art from Brian. You’ll be helping yourself and Brian, but most of all, you’ll be helping your community.

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