If I was dissatisfied with yesterday’s photographs, I have to say I’m pretty satisfied with the ones you’ll see today. Yesterday I had to search for pictures to use, today I could have posted twice as many and the selection process was painful. Urban Woman and I were invited to join the Old North Knoxville Victorian Holiday Home Tour and, obviously, we went. This makes several years for us and it has become one of our highlights each Christmas. A shuttle bus is offered and several buses constantly make the rounds. Of course you can walk or move your own car about.
The historical information you’ll read in today’s blog is completely lifted from their calendar and/or home tour web site. The person or persons who did the research and writing did an excellent job. I was, unfortunately unable to find a credit on the calendar or the site for either. If you are interested in the history of the homes, I’d encourage you to follow the link and read more detail than I’m able to include here.
The tour started with an absolutely beautiful home which won the decorating contest this year. The Cruze-Mabry home, built in 1914 by Christopher Columbus Cruze, a hardware store owner, retains many of its original features. In 1940 the home sold to W. Rogers Mabry, a grandson of General Mabry who built the Mabry-Hazen House. Definitely one of our favorite homes of the tour, we loved many features including the stairwell, pictured here. I’ve generally avoided posting photographs of the stairwells since they are all beautiful and I can get a little obsessed.
The Muir House built in 1926 is one of the newer homes in the neighborhood. The Muirs only lived in the home for three years before losing it during the crash of 1929. It has been lovingly restored and the decorations were warm and beautiful throughout.
Rose Morturary was included on the tour, but we didn’t go there. We’ve been there for other reasons any number of times and decided to move on to the Leach-Oats House, built in 1907 and first inhabited by Mattie Leach and her daughter May. In 1921 John and Louise Oates family moved in, with Louise continuing to live in the home after John’s death until she died in 1953. The exterior of the home includes features from the original construction as well as modifications from the 1920s. It was also beautifully decorated.
The Carmichael House at 224 W. Glenwood Avenue built in 1917 by Clarence and Alice Carmichael is a beautiful Craftsman with many special built-in features. A mahogany grand piano sitting in the front room was built the same year as the house, which is pretty cool. The house is beautiful throughout and was nicely decorated, but it was the former attic, which has been converted to gorgeous living space which really made us fall in love with this home.
The Rose Keller Johnson House, built in 1916 by Alvin Johnson and his wife Rose Keller Johnson whose father was a first cousin to Helen Keller. Alvin moved out with a new wife in 1932 and Rose remained until her death in 1938. It was occupied by Beulah Duff from 1939 to 1976. We loved the front fireplace and the beautiful natural wood windows throughout. The upstairs includes a very unique, open space. What really captivated us, however, was the massive tree out the back windows, visible in the photographs here.
The 1911 Russell Lodging House appears to have been built as a rental home and it has been used as such most of its history. Larger than it looks – as are many of these homes – it now includes three bedrooms and two baths. I loved the Sanborn map of the neighborhood from 1917 which adorned a wall inside. Very cute home.
The 1907 Kyker House at 254 E. Oklahoma Ave. is a Queen Anne cottage built by James and Lydia Kyker. The beautiful princess room on the front and the special playhouse on the back porch make this a perfect space for a young lady. The very unique staircase into the basement, which represents an ingenious solution to one of the many problems posed by adapting older homes to modern uses, was a favorite feature.
The Neoclassical McGinley House at 219 E. Anderson was built in 1910. Whereas many of these homes were built as single-family units but were sub-divided over the years into rentals, this home was actually a duplex in its first incarnation. Eventually it may have been divided into as many as four apartments, but 2006 renovations converted it to the single family home it is today. The interior is beautiful – one highlight being the delightfully decorated child’s room upstairs. Two other things made this stop special for us, however. Excellent music performed live by one of the owners and his friends set a cool tone and as we prepared to leave, the great view of the Holy Ghost Catholic Church tower was striking. I believe this house was for sale, so you might be able to have that view for yourself.
The Holy Ghost Catholic Church was featured on the Sunday tour, but we took the Saturday version which included the older Byzantine Ruthenian Catholic Mission of Holy Resurrection, which sits adjacent to the more ornate church. Built from 1908 to 1926, it was the original Holy Ghost Catholic, which later moved to the adjacent location. It served as a school and a thrift shop before eventually becoming home to the Byzantine Catholics. As it was explained to us, the Byzantines follow the Pope same as the Roman Catholics, but follow more eastern traditions.
Our final stop was the West-Evans House at 236 E. Scott Avenue, built in 1906. In 1911 Mary Evans purchased the home and moved in with her five children. Her daughter Louise lived in the house from 1911 until her death in 1970. An accomplished woman for the era, she obtained a BA from UT in 1918 and a MA from Columbia in 1928. She taught at Knoxville High School from 1918 until it closed in 1951. The present owner purchased the home in 1984 and received a Knox Heritage award for his restoration work in 2012. We particularly loved the fire places and mantels.
I couldn’t help but photograph a few other homes, but I’ll save those for use some other time. If you’d like to look through homes in this area of town, a helpful searchable MLS database is available by clicking the “Downtown Properties” link above. It includes homes in both Old North and Fourth and Gill. A special thanks to the Old North Neighborhood Association for mounting this huge effort each year and to each of the home owners for allowing us a glimpse of their homes.