As I noted last week, the East Tennessee Community Design Center hosted a home tour which included a wide range of home styles, sizes and floor plans. The unifying theme of this year’s tour was outdoor space. It’s something I’ve talked about on this site before and it’s potentially an important feature in an urban home. We all enjoy the many public outdoor amenities from restaurant patios, street spaces and Market Square to the various parks around downtown. Some of us, however, appreciate a small private or semi-private outdoor space just for relaxation.
I started my tour on Thursday night with the Premier Party at the Holston in the first floor space. Along with Mayor Rogero and several hundred Knoxvillians, we enjoyed Dr. Bill Snyder on the piano along with hors d’ oeuvres and a bit of a history lesson on the Holston. Lisa Shirey, co-owner of the low country restaurant and brewery planned for that space discussed the plans.
Participants were then taken in groups to the Elliot just down the street, located at the corner of State and Church. The top floor includes two units which have been merged into the showcase space pictured here. With great views and an expansive layout the elegant home provides a great example of luxury downtown living. In addition, the home features a large, covered balcony which was added by the current owners and an outdoor courtyard between the Elliot and the Glencoe which residents of each building may use.
The primary portion of the home tour began Friday afternoon and ran through Saturday afternoon. We had plans for Friday evening and I agreed to work the second half of the tour hours on Saturday, so I was crunched to get in as many units as possible on Saturday morning. The time crunch resulted in my missing the tour of a unit at Marble Alley Lofts.
I began the morning at The Carson, which is a very unique building on Central Street near Main. Outside appearance might indicate something of an industrial building (built in 1940), but inside is a spectacular unit which was open to tour. With a large, open living space and two bedrooms, it would be a nice downtown condo by any measure. When you consider that it has an enclosed parking garage and a back yard, it becomes quite an exceptional space. The private back yard is nicely enclosed, contains a fountain and beautiful, mature vegetation.
The Holston featured two units, each on the twelfth floor. When completed in 1913, that would have been the top floor of the Holston Bank. In 1928, two additional floors were added as the bank changed hands. Banking ended in the building with the crash of the Butcher banking empire in 1983 and David Dewhirst and partners purchased the building in 2005 to develop it as condominiums.
The two units, taken together take up the entire twelfth floor. The first I toured faced west and featured views of the Smoky Mountains, the city toward and including the Sunsphere and south across Krutch Park toward Market Square. As with many of the units, the art on display stole the show even given the spectacular space. In the case of this first unit, the art was primarily African as the couple lived in South Africa for an extended period.
The second unit I toured on that floor also included exquisite views of Krutch Park, Gay Street, House Mountain and the Smoky Mountains. A soothing blue color throughout the home also was sprinkled with beautiful art. I fell in love with the two paintings shown here by Irish-born artist Lorraine Christie who has been a U.S. resident for over twenty years and now resides in Georgia. I know this thanks to the helpful binder of artist information left on the counter for those who toured. I appreciated the touch.
Both the Holston homes, as well as most units in the building have dedicated outdoor balconies. I hesitate to use the word private because they are visible from many points across the city. For those not intimidated by the height, they offer a beautiful perspective on the city, perched directly above Krutch Park.
Gallery Lofts are housed in an 1897 building originally built as home to a grocery and dry goods business, it later became a department store. In recent history, it was a White Store, which was a local grocery chain, from 1982 to 1988. After some years of vacancy, the building returned to usefulness when Mast General Store moved became the latest occupant in 2006. Gallery Lofts were subsequently developed above the store.
I’ve only included three photographs of the Gallery Lofts unit on the tour because I’ve covered it extensively before. I’d really encourage you to go here in case you missed it. Jeff and Tim’s amazing home defies description. It’s almost like a trip to a museum with art, furniture and beautiful curiosities from all over the world. In the three photographs you see some of their recently acquired George Rodrigue’s Blue Dog series which made him an international phenomenon. I fell in love with the delicate antique iron work they found and installed as a head board.
The outside space here is one of the most spectacular private spaces in the city. In addition to a conventional urban balcony, they have a much larger, partially covered and exquisitely furnished large deck a story above the balcony. With the addition of a water feature and beautiful vegetation, it is a quiet, calming, meditative spot looking eastward from downtown.
The building currently called The Emporium was built in 1902 as a part of the Sterchi Furniture operation. About a century later, the building was purchased from Kristopher Kendrick by David Dewhirst who developed the building into residences. The residential unit in the Emporium showed off some of the best windows in the city. Massive in size, they over look the 100 block of Gay Street and a western view of the city.
The one Old City building included on the tour, the Jackson Ateliers Building began life over one hundred years ago as a part of Haynes-Henson Shoe Company. The condos in the building have been completed in very recent years and the one on the tour features great views of downtown from the main living space, exceptional finishes and two bedrooms. What makes it special, however, is the roof-top living space. Completely enclosed, the view of the city is amazing. As the only roof-top space on the building, it is largely private.
My penultimate stop on the tour was at Crown Court on Locust Street. Built in 1929 as a part of the YMCA, the front portion of the building was converted to condominiums in 2007. The entrance is one of the more attractive in the city and the courtyard, the outdoor space in this case, is beautiful and inviting. Favoring more a Spanish villa than a courtyard in Knoxville, Tennessee, it offers residents a very private outdoor getaway.
The unit included on the tour was that of my friend, local writer and all-around good person, Georgiana Vines. Her home overlooks Locust Street and includes a large living space and two bedrooms, one of which she has converted to an office for her writing. Her displays of Knoxville history and of past elections were intriguing.
My final stop was at Kendrick Place where my duties were to begin shortly. 607 Union Avenue (on the Masonic Temple side), home to Bill and Gay Lyons, is an amazing example of the use of space. Originally three floors, the core of the home has been re-imagined to spiral upwards toward an amazing outdoor space on the rooftop. The only such space at Kendrick Place, panoramic views are available from the living space or the exposed decks on either side of the room.
I exited outward toward the mews (narrow courtyard formed by two parallel buildings – which technically were once supposed to be stables) through the Lyon’s beautifully remodeled basement kitchen. Completed in 2009 as part of major renovations, it’s cozy, functional and stunning. My volunteer duties included answering final questions about Kendrick Place, which was built in 1916 and brought back to something resembling its original glory in 1981 by Kristopher Kendrick. It’s one of the very few examples of historic row homes once much more common in Knoxville. The mews is a community space for Kendrick Place residents.
The tour included interesting and beautiful homes and outdoor spaces, but I was happy to end my day helping guide people through a space I’ve grown to love and enjoy. If you get a chance, peek in through the gate at the narrow courtyard. I think you’ll agree it’s one of the most attractive spots in the city. Special thanks to the East Tennessee Community Design Center for a great tour of downtown homes and outdoor spaces.