Urban Woman and I, once again, enjoyed the 2016 version of Old North Knoxville’s Victorian Holiday Home Tour. If you love older, beautiful homes, Christmas and preservation, it’s about as good as it gets in Knoxville. And it’s too big for one article. I love the details in the homes so much, I can’t resist showing them to a more in-depth level, requiring more than one article. This year Lauren Rider, with assistance from Arin Streeter compiled the history of the homes, which I’ve abbreviated, here, and without their efforts, these tours would not be nearly so compelling.
This year’s tour started with the 1905 Sweetman home at 510 E. Scott. I love the lines on the Queen Anne home built by E. B. Sweetman, which Arin describes as, “a steeply-pitched hip roof with lower cross gables, and a bellcast front dormer.” He also noted the “leaded glass transom about the front entry door,” and the elaborate Victorian woodwork inside, as well as the complimentary historic furnishings the current family has added.
As is always true, I’m taken with fire places and mantels, and this home home had some beautiful examples, in addition to some cool touches like the old phonograph (notice Nipper, the RCA dog beneath the player and a festive skeleton (of a former owner?). Lots of beautiful stained glass also filled the house, along with a grand, central hallway.
1311 Kenyon Street, the Thomas House (1922) offered a tour of a craftsman style home first owned by Jack and Myrtle Thomas. Mr. Streeter noted the blend of poplar siding and brick and the fact that the home is unusual to have a basement with a drive-in garage. The sunroom (now the dining room) with its windows on three sides was a highlight noted both in the booklet and by all the visitors.
As with so many of the homes, the fireplace, the wood floors and built-in added the extra touches that made it a special space. Interesting for it’s efficient use of the hillside, the home, like some of the others is deceptively large. The windows, however, especially in that sunroom made the house a great place.
The 1904 Queen Anne home at 1325 Armstrong was first the residence of Walker and Margaret McSpadden, and so bears their name, though Mr. McSpadden lived there about a year before his death. After several different owners, Lynn Hahn and his wife Belle moved into the home in 1913, though within a year, Mr. Hahn died.
The home appears to be hard on the men, seeming destined to be a matriarchal abode. Ms. Hahn lived there for around thirty years, though two sisters, “Helen Buchanan Wilson and Jessica Buchanan French lived in the home for the longest stretch, from 1945 to 2005.
Filled with beautiful art, leaded and stained glass, fireplaces, french doors and stairwell, the home is attractive from every angle and has been lovingly updated to include a garage and a very modern kitchen. The double banister along the stairs and upstairs hallway was one of my favorites. Six beautiful and distinctive fire places? Not fair. Simply ridiculous. Easily one of our favorite homes in Old North.
Fourth Presbyterian Church (1914) joined the tour this year and the home of not only a congregation, but the Folk at Fourth musical series, the church has an interesting entryway, with the front doors opening into a reception area and the sanctuary accessed off of that, but with the entry into its side, rather than the front or rear as is traditional.
The Kilgen organ is the only remaining survivor of its type in Knoxville. The church was designed by Charles and West Barber who were members of the church and the design centered around the wall of stained glass and backed by the imposing single stained-glass work. All stained glass dates to the beginning of the church.
We enjoyed wonderful piano music by a delightful pianist (apologies, the name evades me) who told us he’d only been playing four years and is largely self-taught. He bought a piano without knowing how to play and works every day to improve his skills. I assumed he was a life-long accomplished musician. We also heard him at a later home and it added so much to the tour.
I’ll close today with a couple of homes spotted along the way with notations in their yard that they’d been recognized by the neighborhood. There is no shortage of beautiful and beautifully decorated homes in Old North. I’d encourage you to take some time just to drive around in one of Knoxville’s oldest bedroom communities and enjoy the incredible architecture. Tomorrow I’ll have the remaining homes on the tour.