When did people first begin to flee the city to find a quieter lifestyle? In Knoxville it started in the late 1800’s. One of the first quiet places of choice they sought is now known as the Fourth and Gill neighborhood, named after two prominent streets there. Eventually people fled even farther out, leaving the area to deteriorate. As the decades passed, people began to recognize the lovely homes there as attractive places to live – and people began to desire to live near the city, once more.
This lead to a resurgence in the area, resulting in the restoration and reclamation of much of the area. While it hasn’t all come back, there are so many beautifully restored homes that an amateur photography enthusiast would have a hard time finding a bad angle. For individuals wishing to live in an historic home near the center city, this is one of the preeminent choices. What once seemed an escape from the city now is viewed as a comfortable bike ride and an open window to everything that downtown has to offer.
I almost didn’t go to the home tour, though I love looking at old homes. The rain that obliterated much of the Rossini Festival continued into Sunday and persisted until sometime around 4:00. Urban Woman, my house looking partner, had other obligations. At the last minute I decided to drive five minutes to see if I could catch the tour. The entire tour consisted of seven homes and a church, so it seemed manageable. I made the decision to skip the church and the most modern of the homes. I was able to see five of the other six and took so many photographs that I’m going to break them into two posts in order to do justice to these gorgeous homes.
I started with the final home on the tour, not so much because I’m oppositional or generally backwards, but more because I had a hard time grasping the layout of the neighborhood and making sense of the map and it was the first one I blundered into. I’ll blame some of my confusion on the fact that I was in such a hurry to catch as many homes as I could in a little time. To balance out my minor difficulty with the map, I must say the descriptions of the neighborhood and the homes in the brochure were excellent. That is the source for the information included below.
I first stopped at the Klonaris House, the home of Jim and Lori Klonaris, owners of Cafe Four. Built in 1902 as a lodging house, it served as such for much of its history. A number of modifications have been made along the way, but much of the flooring and other woodwork, as well as many of the original interior doors remain.
It is a perfectly gorgeous home which has clearly been lovingly restored and renovated. It also features a beautiful backyard with a water feature as well as out-buildings of various sorts. I can’t really imagine a kitchen much more beautiful than this one, and twelve stained glass windows add interest throughout the home.
The Rusk House on Eleanor Street, built in 1899, was built and first lived in by James Long, a plumber. Eventually, the home became divided into as many as five apartments, which is sadly typical of homes from this era. The Mary Boyce Temple Home, currently being restored by Brian Pittman downtown fell into similar misuse. In this case, John and Sherri Wampler bought the home in 2005 and returned it to a closer approximation of its original design. The current owners bought the home in 2009 and they have added a beautiful water feature that simply begs to be photographed.
In addition to the lovely art hanging on the first floor walls, it was the master bedroom and bath on the top floor that really stood out in this home. The master suite seems perfectly designed for a rainy day and simply refusing to get out of bed. With its angled ceilings, beautiful floors and dim lighting, I’m not sure I’d ever make it to work on time. The bathroom features a beautiful alcove with a stained glass window and a clawfoot tub fitting the period perfectly.
I’m going to stop at those two for today so I don’t overwhelm you with too many photographs. I’m trying to trim down a bit in that category, feeling that I go over the top sometimes. I’ll do the other three homes in a later post.