Beautifully Renovated 804 West Hill Avenue Offers a Rare New Residence in the City

Exterior View, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

A thin thread connects yesterday’s article about the Mechanics Bank and Trust Building and today’s article about a renovated home in the Maplehurst section of downtown. As it happens, when the bank president, Thomas O’Connor was gunned down in the street outside the bank, the bank’s vice-president, Edward J. Sanford, briefly assumed duties as head of the bank.

Not only was Mr. Sanford the bank’s vice-president, he was one of the founders of the bank and a manufacturing tycoon. He maintained a mansion in an area near downtown. The long-lost mansion was called, “Maplehurst,” and the little residential enclave between Church Street United Methodist, Henley Street, the University of Tennessee and Neyland Drive is named for that missing mansion.

Aerial Map of Maplehurst

I asked long-term resident and beloved local artist Cynthia Markert for a few thoughts about the little section of downtown. She said, “I could write a book.” It was to Maplehurst that she returned after eight years away from east Tennessee living in Washington, D.C. “It was very eclectic- just the right creative sorts drawn to the beautiful varied architecture and cheap rent.”

She remembers everyone moving all around the place, Judge Swann’s mother being her landlady. When she lost her studio space in the Victorians on eleventh street, she moved into a larger space and has created most of her life’s work there.  While the spirit of the place has changed, she’ll always remember the bohemian spirit of the times when friends would sit out all night. Now she says the, “spirit is still there in the architecture and the huge magnolia tree I used to sit under at 3 am after a night of dancing across Henley at Lord Lindsey’s!”

Entrance, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Entrance, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Hall Viewed toward Front Door, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

As the neighborhood evolves, one side of a beautiful duplex at 804 Hill, has been completely beautifully returned to its original glory, but with all modern conveniences. Built in 1920, the home has seen all the changes detailed by Cynthia. The duplex (one half has been renovated, with the other to follow) was inhabited for many years by college students, but remained remarkably intact with little damage sustained in the intervening years.

Originally listed as one address, 802, the deed was subdivided in December 2016 by developers Buzz Goss and Dale Smith. The two had to separate sewer, gas and electric to the two units of the home Buzz bought in 2010. Students continued inhabiting it through the 2017 academic year. The number of beer cans thrown into the crawl space in the basement, I am told was staggering.

Kitchen, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Kitchen, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Living Space, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Living Space, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

When they began the renovation, they learned the home was in reasonably good condition. Virtually all the doors and windows throughout the house are original and are in working order as is a very special accordion/French door into the kitchen off the main hallway. Nothing had been updated in decades, which, in preservation terms, is a very good thing. The kitchen had to be completely modernized, of course, and it had likely been the same for fifty or more years.

All but one window in the house is original, but in order to improve efficiency, storm windows were artfully added to the exterior of each one, which also served the purpose of protecting the original glass into the future. The only interior doors not original to the house are the three in the master, which are replicas of those found throughout the rest of the home. The floors are also all original.

Master Suite, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Master Suite Full Bath, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Master Suite Full Bath, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

The layout of the home was maintained, but some of the rooms were re-purposed. The current kitchen, for example, was originally a dining room. Given that fact, one of the startling assets of the house is the large size of the rooms generally and, particularly, the bedrooms. The home includes a master bedroom on the ground floor and three bedrooms upstairs, with one bath upstairs and one-and-a-half downstairs. The front living space features a working gas fireplace.

Stairwell, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Stairwell, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Upstairs Hallway and Sitting Area, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Upstairs Hallway and Sitting Area, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Upstairs Hallway and Sitting Area, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

The old kitchen was in what is now the master bedroom. It also has a door onto the back deck which is bordered by a private parking space that has been added. The deck will have wrought iron railing when completed. A complimentary second-floor deck which had been added to the home over the years, was removed. The home also offers a great front porch that looks out to Church Street United Methodist Church.

Upstairs Bedroom, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Upstairs Full Bath, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

Upstairs Full Bath, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

At 3152 square feet, the home is one of the largest spaces available for a single family in the downtown area. A 625 square foot basement is also included and could serve a number of functions. Every system – plumbing, electric, HVAC and fixture is new, as is the roof. Dixie Kitchen provided the high-end finishes for the bathrooms and kitchen and helped design the kitchen layout.

View from the Rear Including Back Deck, 804 West Hill Street, Knoxville, January 2018

The upstairs sitting area was one of my favorite spots in the house. It could (and would if I lived there!) be an office, with windows on two sides and a view of the church and the Sunsphere. There are twenty-six windows in the home and every room has multiple windows. Another appeal is the location, which is directly in the middle of UT, the river, the World’s Fair Park and downtown.

Exterior View, 804 West Hill Avenue, Knoxville, January 2018

To say that the property is unique to downtown is an understatement: a hundred-year-old, residence with over 3,000 square feet in a central location is something you can spot many places downtown. Very few homes downtown were originally built as homes at all. It’s also rare to find a downtown home with no HOA fees and one in a residential neighborhood. The sale price has been set at $1.25 million.

If you are interested, you can contact Dale Smith at 1-865-405-2283 or dale@marblealley.com.

Comments

  1. Those beer cans! I would look out my window at 4 a.m. and see some abandoned student in a stupor and I would take him a bottle of coke and perrier. I think those residents may be history for now. Buzz has done an absolutely beautiful job on this place. I have gone out on a stroll with my cat Vincent to take a peeping tom approach to this developing project. Buzz owes me a glass of champagne for enduring all the construction work out my bedroom window 🙂 and, how I miss those beautful homes across from the church. Alot disappeared in those days. How lovely to view the goings on of the Mary Boyce Temple porch from my own. Well done. So many things- well done.

  2. I feel like an opportunity was lost when Church Street UMC recently invested in enhancing and leveling the grade of their lot on Hill Avenue. It seems street level residential could have been added with below level parking for the church and residents complete with an elevator for the mobility challenged members to access the street level. The residences would have had incredible river views and the church might have even come out ahead financially.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      I agree that the surface lot at the corner of West Hill and Henley should be returned to residential. It once held beautiful homes that fit nicely with the Mary Boyce Temple Home across the street. The church intends to build a multi level parking garage on the north side of the church (the hill slopes dramatically, so this would not be a high-rise structure, and this construction would reduce their need for the south lot. I would love to see them, at that point, turn the land over to a developer for a great residential development of some sort.

      • That would be great. Churches are loathe to part with property even when it is in their best interest. Hopefully Church Street will have some vision for the city – residents across the street might end up being congregants and there is always something special about a church with a neighborhood feel.

      • The garage plan got nixed, AFAIK. I would love to see a downtown church consolidate its footprint and sell off some land. At least one I’d like to see leave town altogether.

    • KP Anderson says:

      It has been discussed often with some plans made. Things move slowly sometimes but yes, that is a good idea

  3. Why can’t Knoxvillians make up their minds on the name of the road, Hill Street or Hill Avenue. Your article flips back and forth, and you’re not alone.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      I apologize for the confusion which is all my own. It is Hill Avenue and I’ll make the changes accordingly. Thank you for pointing out my error.

  4. Great place but I am confused. Is it a single family home or a duplex?

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      It’s not your fault. I don’t think I made that clear. This side of the duplex had numerous students at any given time for many years. It will now be for a single family. The other side of the duplex has not been renovated and, yes, they are still connected, though with different addresses, so it is still a duplex.

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