One item off the massive list last weekend that Urban Woman and I couldn’t pass up was the 24th annual Fourth and Gill Home Tour. Fourth and Gill is an area just north of downtown which features homes, many of them incredibly beautiful, mostly built around 1890 – 1910. I have a hard time focusing on the homes which are actually on the tour, because there are so many great views in every direction. The homes at the top of this article, for example are just homes I happened to walk by.
We hit everything but the church. It was first on the list, but we decided to see it last and then, being tired and hungry by that time, decided to head back to downtown instead. I also missed the exterior photograph of one of the stops, as you’ll see later, but we had a great time and I’m told we got many ideas for what we will do in our own home.
Though we skipped the current church on the list, the first stop we made was at a former church. Built as a Seventh Day Adventist Church in 1929, the large building at 505 Lovenia last served as a church in 1967. After a brief stint as an American Legion hall, it was purchased in 1980 by Charlie Brooks who uses the former sanctuary as a photography studio. The large downstairs area was converted by Candy Finley-Brooks into a shared space for artists, several of whom operate kilns and develop their creations in close proximity to one another.
The Walker House at 930 Luttrell St. was built in 1905. The Walkers lived there for thirty-five years, but upon their departure, the home became first a nursing home, and later a boarding house. The current owners are working to return the home to its original use as a single family home. They’ve got a great start with some beautiful flooring in the foyer and great fireplaces throughout. I know I have large numbers of fireplaces, fireplace covers and mantels pictured in my home tour posts, but they are often the most striking feature in the homes. I suspect the original intention was that they would serve as a focal point since no one sat around looking at a television screen.
The Benjamin Franklin Young House, at 1015 Luttrell St., was built in 1890. Like so many homes and other buildings that started with much promise in Knoxville, this home flourished and then languished for many years. The original owner was a physician for whom Young High School was named. He also donated land for a hospital in Knoxville. Neither survived the unfortunately common practice in these parts of knocking buildings down.
The home, obviously, did survive, but not without coming close to being lost. Subdivided first into two apartments, then four, it has only recently begun to emerge from years of neglect. The current owners purchased it nearly ten years ago and have come a long way in their work. Interestingly, they had previously lived across the street and must have spent time staring at the challenge across the street until they could no longer resist.
The last home for today’s article is the Bradley-Murrian House, built in 1916. The original owner, Frank Bradley, operated a downtown restaurant. He left the house in 1925 and William J. and Susan Murrian moved in. William worked for the railroad and his sister married Weston Fulton, of Fulton Bellows fame. The tour booklet noted that the Fulton mansion still stands on UT campus, but is slated to be demolished in coming months.
After remaining vacant for twenty years, the home was condemned in 2003 before a groups stepped in to save it. The current owners bought the home in 2010 and are working to restore it. It is one of many labors of love happening in this great section of downtown.
I’ll close with a special thanks to the committee that put this year’s tour together. I met Brett Burdick and talked to Sara Martin along the way. I’m not sure who put the booklet together, but I owe a serious debt to that person or those persons because other than my own observations, the source for all the house information is beautifully collected there. Finally, if you like what you see here and think you might be interested in a home in this neighborhood or downtown, you might want to click the “Downtown Properties” link at the top of this page. Not only will you find interesting statistics about recent sales in the area and links to other articles about downtown properties, you’ll find a great, searchable MLS database which includes every currently listed property in both these areas. I’ll come back with more of this tour soon.