One of the Christmas traditions Urban Woman and I have enjoyed in recent years is the Victorian Home Tour in Old North Knoxville. You can see our previous tours here: 2012, 2013, 2014. In 2013 I broke it into four parts and I’m going to break this one into two. It’s just too many photos to string in to one. So today you’ll get the first five stops on the tour plus a bonus not on the tour. Tomorrow I’ll finish up.
We love the tour for multiple reasons. The homes and the decorations are beautiful, of course. We usually go at night to see the lights better, but due to other commitments, took this one on Sunday afternoon. We love the conversations with owners about the condition – generally poor to wretched – in which they first saw their homes. The transformation is often dramatic, sometimes ongoing and always done with much love (and money, and hard work).
The weather this year was as good as any year we’ve taken the tour. It was a perfect Sunday afternoon for a stroll, though they also provide a bus if you don’t want to walk from home to home. A map is provided for the walkers on the back of a complementary calendar which also has descriptions of the homes and their history. That’s where I got the information you’ll read here and I’d love to credit the writer, but the name wasn’t provided. Any quotes you see come from that calendar.
You’ll also notice that the number of photographs of the homes varies widely. This is largely due to the crowds (larger in some homes and hard to shoot around) and the design of the home (some are more open and easier to shoot than others) along with other factors.
The first home, included in the photograph at the beginning of this article, along with the next few, is located at 1523 Fremont Place. Built in 1907, it’s an oddity in that it was built by four unmarried siblings – with help from their father who was, by then, a retired carpenter. The incredible woodwork, built-in hutch and other touches reflect George Faulkner’s skills.
The five moved in and lived together for twelve years before both George (the father) and Robert (the only male sibling) died in the influenza epidemic in 1919. Their bodies were laid out in the parlor for their double funeral. The three sisters lived there the rest of their lives, never marrying. Two taught and one did book-keeping. The last remaining sister, Corinne, died in 1967. The home underwent rough times after that, with all the mantels being stripped out for salvage. Seven of the eight were recovered by a neighborhood effort and returned.
It’s worth saying a word about the mantles at this point. You’ll see probably way more photographs of mantles than you need, but I can’t help it. It’s one of the distinct markings of the neighborhood. The tile used for them is not only beautiful, but almost modern looking, again. I’m fascinated with them.
The second stop was the Gaskell-Myers House at 1025 Kenyon Street. A Queen Anne style home, it was built in 1902 by Charles Schmid, the son of a Swiss immigrant who ran “barber and bath houses on Market and Gay Streets.” The business was located at the site of the present Tennessee Theatre lobby. The home eventually became sub-divided into apartments and only recently has been converted back to a single-family dwelling. What caught our eyes the most in this home were the great light fixtures, including one like I’ve never seen before, and the incredibly beautiful original doors and woodwork.
St. James Episcopal Church was built in 1927 in response to the burgeoning population moving northward from downtown. Moving six blocks further north, the old church was demolished. Pieces of it have been added and others modified over the years, but the nave remains a very beautiful testament to another era.
The home at 204 E. Oklahoma Avenue is a “bungalow with mid-western Prairie Style influence,” which is to say it looks a bit different from some of its neighbors. Built in 1917 for Joseph Wade, he and his family soon moved on. The home was purchased by Frank and Margaret Reeder, natives of Ohio. We loved the windows which are unique for the time.
The half-way point on the tour was marked by this lovely home at 212 E. Oklahoma. Built around 1907 for William and Daisy McCarty, they only lived int he house for about six years. The longest tenured residents to date were Clyde and Icie Beeler who bought the house in 1945 and lived there many years. Four original mantels highlight the interior.
I’ll hit you with the other five stops on the tour in tomorrow’s article, but I’m going to throw in one – unrelated to the tour – home from Fourth and Gill. I often catch a bonus house on these tours because some smart realtor plans an open house to coincide with interested parties walking about. I knew about this home because it is advertised on this page.
It’s probably the largest home in 4th and Gill at 4,400 square feet. It features several 4’s, as in 4 bedrooms and 4 bathrooms. It’s been built out as a pretty modern home on the interior and the staircase is pretty amazing. It’s listed for $624,900, which tells you a lot about how these neighborhoods have changed. While that isn’t a typical house in either 4th and Gill or Old North, it is indicative of where the neighborhoods are headed. Also of note is the fact that more and more houses are selling without making it to the MLS.