The 2016 Fourth and Gill Tour of Homes could not have had nicer weather. Urban Woman and I got there not long after it started to find that it was already flooded with participants. I’ve been there at the tail end before and felt rushed. We’ve decided we should aim for the middle next time. Don’t tell anyone.
We skipped the church since we’ve seen it before (last year’s tour: Part One, Part Two) and, in fact, we feel as if we are almost part of the neighborhood after so many tours (if you like what you see here and want to see more, you might visit previous tours: 2014, Pt. 1, 2014, Pt. 2, 2013, Pt. 1, 2013, Pt. 2). We immediately started a chain of encounters with people we know and pretty much felt as at home as we do in the heart of downtown.
As always, a special shout-out should go to Fourth and Gill resident Arin Streeter who compiles the histories on each home. Every quote you see in this article and every historical detail are his and his alone. My job is basically performed by his hard work and I appreciate it. The photographs, at least, are mine, though sometimes the crowds prevented me from getting the photographs I might have liked.
The first home we toured was the Long-Jacobs House (1899) at 805 Eleanor Street. Built around 1899 by James Long, a local plumber, it wasn’t occupied by the owner until 1906. Like so many homes of its age and size, it was subdivided into apartments. Owners John and Sherri Wampler returned it to a single-family home in 2005 and added many of the current touches like the new kitchen and walk-in closets. The current owners added an exterior garage and extensive landscaping.
There are so many great features of this home, it’s hard to know where to start. The kitchen is beautiful and started the trend of great gas stoves and giant hoods we saw throughout the tour. The waterfall in the back offered a quiet retreat. As someone who works from home, the study with a fireplace, private restroom and huge desk made me jealous.
We loved the hardwood floors in the master bath and that has to be the prettiest stained-glass window in a walk-in closet I’ve ever seen (since it is the only one). The window seats in the master bedroom overlooks the neighborhood and seemed a very inviting space.
One of the innovations of this year’s tour was the addition of neighborhood artist exhibitions along the way. We didn’t spot them all, but enjoyed the ones we did. Somehow we lost sight of them along the way, but saw the early ones. Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photograph of young Dahlia Barton and her excellent photography, but we loved the snow shots and, particularly, her close-up photograph of her dog. Gordon Coker’s carved bowls are beautiful. You’ll find more about him here. Finally, we spotted the art of Intertwined, “a sewing cooperative of refugee women.” You can find their work here.
1003 Eleanor St. (1903) has its share of notable connections. Noted Knoxville architect George F. Barber collaborated with the owner of the home, fellow architect Thomas A. Kluttz to build the home. Later the home was occupied by William J. Chastain, owner of Knoxville’s first Ford dealership and later by Frank McDonald, “president of White Stores.”
Later, the home was subdivided into apartments, most of which were eventually vacant. The latest rendition has four apartments and much of the historical character has survived in the apartment on display. we loved the arch into what is now the kitchen, the elaborate molding and the decorating with both books and a rocking pez collection.
Brownlow units are particularly hard to photograph, as I’ve learned before. I took only the one interior shot of the kitchen in the unit we toured. Each of the 35 units are distinct in that they occupy very different parts of the former elementary school. Serving students into the early 1990s, the building is most famous for being the site of some filming for the movie, “October Sky.” “In 2009, it reopened as Brownlow School Lofts . . . ”
After buying something to drink at The Juice Box and getting a very nice preview tour of a certain coming-soon coffee shop on Broadway, we checked out Greystone Mansion (1889). Neither of us had been inside, so we were curious. As it turns out, we were delighted at all the original wood, hidden shutters and stained-glass that remained. When constructed, the newspaper reported that, “construction of its stone walls alone cost more than any other private residence in Knoxville.” It has served as home to WATE since 1961.
The striking feature at 1114 Gratz St. was the entry room through a stained glass-trimmed entryway through to the kitchen. All open, the former chimney, now serving as a vent for the hood over the stove, is the lone obstruction in that half of the home. The owner displayed photographs of the home as it was purchased and they were quite grim. As I’ve said before, I very much admire people who see historic homes and buildings not for what they are, but for what they can become. This home is a beautiful example of preservation at its best.
The final home on the tour, 1003 Luttrell St. (1887), was built by German immigrant, Gustav Henry Kaiser. Purchased in 1901 by Mary Emily Kuhlman, she added the “characteristic tower and expansive front porch.” In the 1940s it became “two apartments, then four, then six, often sitting mostly vacant and decaying.” After a fire in 1989, the home was saved first by a neighbor across the street and later by a group of neighbors. Improvements continued over the years and “renovations in 2014 returned the house to a single-family home.”
We loved everything about this home, from the kitchen through all the various rooms. For me, the study overlooking the neighborhood from the tower would be the most appealing characteristic. Truly, this is a beautiful home and was a perfect way to end another excellent tour.