South High Senior Living Opens Today

South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

South High Senior Living, the latest project from developer/owner Rick Dover opens today to new residents. The project started with a building, the former South High School, which had literally fallen in on itself. Mr. Dover said it took most of a year simply to clean out the roof and other structures that had to be removed before renovations could begin.

The project took several years and over twelve million dollars to bring the building back to life. South High School closed its doors in 1991 after serving students since 1937 (first as a junior high), and the building remained empty until the current renovation. It was purchased in 2008 by a developer who failed to see the project through and it was ultimately re-purchased by the city in 2015. A request for proposals to save the building netted a total of one and that one from Dover Development, which purchased the building from the city.

South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Heather Haley Director of Sales and Marketing, Rick Dover, Developer and Owner, Regional South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Lobby Entrance, Regional South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

With the opening, South Knoxville will have a new state-of-the-art facility serving residents who need assisted living support, including medical professionals. It will also include a memory care unit for seniors experiencing dementia. The new building includes sixty-two total private and semi-private rooms, of which more than a dozen are spoken for prior to opening. Heather Haley, Regional Director of Sales and Marketing said that most are long-term south Knoxville residents, including some who were students at the school.

Led by Executive Director and certified Dementia Practitioner, Helen Porter, the new facility has opened during a strange time, but Dover said that it has actually been beneficial in one regard: protocols required for operating a senior facility during a pandemic have been put in place from the outset. As a result no re-training was required.

Main Dining Hall, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Main Dining Hall, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Main Dining Hall, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Gathering Space, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

The facility, like other assisted living facilities will be closed to visitors starting today in order to protect residents from COVID-19. All staff have been tested and all residents will be tested. A temperature screening, completion of a short medical survey and a mask were required for my entry. Unlike other facilities which have been in operation, it is a pristine environment from which to start at this time.

The Licensed Assisted Living development is beautiful, light and spacious. Identical to Oakwood Senior Living, another Dover property, in function, skilled nursing is available at all times. This is a distinction from Knox High, also developed and owned by Dover, which is Independent Senior Living. Dover properties have won numerous preservation awards and other recognition, the latest of which came from the highly respected Urban Land Institute, which listed Knox High as one of ten examples nationwide of senior housing utilizing next generation, contemporary design.

Memory Care Unit Private Room, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Private Room, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Private Room, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Shared Room, Memory Care Unit, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Numerous amenities are included for residents, from a billiard room and gathering spaces to a salon and activity room. Maddison Boling, Vibrant Life Director, is in charge of planning and executing activities for residents. She has family members who both worked at the school and attended as students, so she’s excited about her connection to the new facility.

Dining Room, Memory Care Unit, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Exterior Courtyard Being Prepared, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Salon, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Maddison Boling, Vibrant Life Director, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

At over 46,000 square feet and in very difficult condition, the task was a big one, but one that Dover said excited him from the beginning. He said he’s always wanted the honor of transforming a Charles Barber building and this was his first opportunity. For the project, he was able to work with Barber McMurry Architects, the firm co-founded by Charles Barber.

Pre-Renovation Building Photos, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

Rick Dover Points to Pre-Renovation Building Photo of Spot Where He is Standing, South High Senior Living, 835 Tipton Avenue, Knoxville, July 2020

“Because it was a a Charles Barber building, it had special meaning. Barber McMurry had the original drawings in their archives.” He said it is so beautiful because of the inspired design scale, with he called “proper proportion for humans.” The ceilings are twelve feet high throughout and the hallways are about twice as wide as contemporary designs.

Not incidentally, the spaciousness of the facility will allow for comfortable social distancing. In addition to the large gathering spaces inside, there are outdoor seating areas available.

Comments

  1. Rick has hit a home run with this project! I was fortunate enough to tour the building a few weeks ago and it is truly remarkable. If you know of someone in need of assisted living housing this would be a wonderful option. I should also mention that this was the number one use mentioned in public meetings discussing the possible redevelopment of South High.

  2. Maggie C says

    Is that green carpeting on the exterior wall? Some other material?

  3. Joe Hultquist says

    This is a great job by Rick and many others, restoring one of South Knoxville’s treasures. It’s been a long haul, starting with the efforts by community members many years ago that halted Knox County Schools’ pending demolition of the historic structure (in order to erect a metal warehouse building). Monte Stanley, in particular, deserves recognition for sounding the alarm after spotting a track-hoe parked next to the building in the early 2000s.

  4. The building is beautiful. I will say though, if I live to be old enough to need assisted living, send me ANYWHERE but a school I used to go to.

  5. What about the beautiful big trees that were in front of the building?

  6. Nice! You had a heckuvajob to do and you did it well.
    We ware two male professionals. I am 68 the Sept. and he is 70 in August. Do you have a large room for two? and with 2 bathrooms?
    IF not, can you recommend anyone?

  7. Beautifully done!

  8. Dorothy Stair says

    Alan, In the past week you have written about two buildings, South High and the Cal Johnson Building, both were on the Knox Heritage endangered list at the end of the last century. Great to see them restored and in such beautiful condition. Wonder what is happening To the old Standard Knitting Mills building.

  9. pete white says

    Beautiful. Graduated from South High in 63. Sure would like to get my 97 year old Mom interested in this center

  10. Dana S. (Nick) Wyman says

    Wonderful. I’m very glad to see this graceful building saved and put to good use. Charles Barber was a master in many respects; his wonderfully nuanced sense of proportion is conspicuous among his gifts. He paid careful attention to little details that make a real difference.

  11. THANK YOU MONTE STANLEY (SHS ’65) !

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