10. Fort Sanders Houses & Grocery - 307 18th Street & 1802, 1804, 1810 Highland Avenue.
These historic structures on the southwest corner of the 1800 block of Highland Avenue comprise one of the few remaining dividing lines between the concentration of residential and medical uses in the Historic Fort Sanders Neighborhood. They all were purchased by Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center in February of 2008. The residential structures are now surrounded by barbed-wire-topped chain link fencing and the 18th Street IGA's continued operation is in doubt. The fate of all four buildings is uncertain.
A recent revival of long range neighborhood planning efforts requested by neighborhood residents and facilitated by the City of Knoxville, is a step in the right direction. All the stakeholders are at the table and there is an opportunity to turn the Fort around for the benefit of all.
Any long range planning should promote preservation of the historic structures that have managed to dodge the wrecking ball over the last 50 years. These four properties offer the opportunity for a new era of cooperation between Fort Sanders Regional Medical Center and neighborhood residents. The newly formed, resident-led Fort Sanders Community Development Corporation is the perfect vehicle for a solution. The hospital should partner with residents to preserve the buildings or donate them to the Fort Sanders CDC if it has no plans to preserve them. The group's mission will guide its efforts to retain the neighborhood grocery while restoring the residential properties for single family occupancy. That outcome would further stabilize the neighborhood, as opposed to the permanent damage that will result from the demolition these four highly visible historic buildings.
307 18th Street
This Commercial Vernacular style building was constructed circa 1923 as the W.T. Roberts Grocery Store, but over the years Fort Sanders' residents have known it as the 18th Street IGA. Roberts owned and operated the store from 1923 until 1950. During that time he had a short commute from his home at 1802 Highland Avenue just around the corner. In 1950 the store became the Fred McMahan Grocery Store and the owner had an even shorter commute. He lived on the second floor of the building.
1802 Highland Avenue
This Victorian style house was built circa 1891 for Ranson D. Whittle who was a well known manufacturer and founder of the Whittle Trunk and Bag Company. Whittle was also a prominent member of the family for which the Whittle Springs community in North Knoxville is named. From 1914 until 1950 William T. Roberts, owner of the neighborhood grocery store around the corner, lived in the house.
1804 Highland Avenue
This Victorian Cottage was built circa 1898 and the first owner was Reverend Isaac Van Dewater.
1810 Highland Avenue
This Victorian style home was built circa 1895 for Dr. Henry Patton Coile, a prominent turn of the century surgeon and physician. Coile lived in the house from 1895 until 1900. In 1900 his son Samuel A. Coile, the first pastor at Fort Sanders Presbyterian Church, became the owner of the family home. It shares many architectural features with homes designed by George Barber and could be the work of Knoxville's most famous Victorian-era architect.
11. Knoxville College National Register District - 901 College Street.
Knoxville College was founded in 1875 as part of the missionary effort of the United Presbyterian Church of North America to promote religious, moral and educational leadership among freed men and women. The National Register District is composed of 10 buildings, eight of which are contributing, and two which are non-contributing. Knoxville College has significantly contributed to the educational and spiritual welfare of the African American population in Tennessee since 1875, particularly in the fields of industrial and normal education.
The buildings at Knoxville College are a tribute to the creativity and resourcefulness of the student body. While pursuing their education, students designed and constructed these historic buildings using bricks they manufactured at the campus. This spirit of involvement continues today, even as Knoxville College struggles to continue its mission. The historic buildings, with their fine craftsmanship and solid design, are deserving of support from the entire community and their preservation is a critical part of the rebirth of the college. Knox Heritage and its members stand ready to assist the college in its efforts to preserve its architectural heritage and encourage Knox County residents and their elected representatives to support the college's efforts.
12. French Broad River Corridor.
The French Broad River was one of the earliest settlement paths in Knox County. By the mid 1780s, early homes and industries were located on both sides of the river. It was the settlers' highway; ferries crossed it linking communities on both of its banks. Francis Alexander Ramsey settled in this corridor and the stone Ramsey House still stands today. There is evidence to suggest that James White built his first house in the area. In The Annals of Tennessee by Dr. J.G.M. Ramsey, the French Broad Corridor is described as the home of Alexander Campbell; the large Georgian style house he built still stands. On both sides of the French Broad some of the best architectural examples of early Knox County - pre-historic settlements, a mill, churches and early cemeteries and ferry landings - tell the story of a river that acted as a highway for commerce and social interaction. The French Broad River corridor, because of its relative isolation and lack of urban infrastructure, retained its historic places, scenery, breathtaking views and vistas and it is a portrait of Knox County in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
Knox County Commission's approval of rezonings that allow industrial and commercial development at the Midway Road interchange with I-40, combined with increasing development pressure from Sevier County, threaten the survival of one of Knox County's signature places. We call on Knox County government leaders to act with haste to develop innovative measures that protect this endangered treasure in east Knox County from being destroyed by the rampant development looming on the horizon.
13. The Pickle Mansion. - 1633 Clinch Avenue.
The Pickle Mansion was built in 1889 in the Queen Anne style. It was built of solid masonry construction with a brick veneer wall covering on that masonry. Typical of grand houses of the Queen Anne era, it boasted a hip roof with lower cross gables, a turret, elaborate attic vent windows, window arches, transoms and a large front and side wrap around porch.
The house was burned in a disastrous fire that occurred in August of 2002, and suffered extensive damage. The current owner was able to purchase the house from its previous owners, who were denied in their request to demolish the building. After the purchase the current owner navigated an extensive and necessary subdivision process and took steps to finance the restoration. Fire debris has been removed and roof trusses have been designed with the intent of completing a rehabilitation of the house and restoring its architectural presence on Clinch Avenue. However, although interior work to prevent additional deterioration has been completed, the house is still unroofed. Rehabilitation work has begun, but the slow pace of that work leaves the house in a precarious position.
Knox Heritage encourages the owner to move swiftly to get the house under roof and begin the long-awaited restoration of this Fort Sanders Neighborhood landmark.
14. The Maplehurst Neighborhood.
Maplehurst was developed in its present form in the early twentieth century, and contains Mission, Tudor Revival, Craftsman, Bungalow and Spanish Colonial Revival buildings that were popular architectural styles of that era. Maplehurst was first the site of an earlier residence known as Maplehurst, from which the area took its name, and is typical of residential areas developed near downtown. The buildings have furnished rental housing for downtown workers, students, and others over the years; many are now in poor condition, and threatened by neglect.
The area has become known as an enclave for local artists and musicians who enjoy the location surrounded by downtown, the river and the university. Most of the buildings were purchased by Atlanta-based Gameday, a developer of luxury sports condominiums, several years ago. Since that time promised plans for the restoration of the buildings have not come to fruition and a split between the firm's partners has left the future of their properties in limbo. They are now owned by Mountain River Associates.
The lack of maintenance and a riverfront location increase the potential peril for the well-loved neighborhood. Knox Heritage calls upon the owners to bring the vacant and deteriorating buildings up to code and improve the general conditions of the historic buildings they own in order to protect the buildings and the residents who live in and around them.
15. Edelmar - 3624 Topside Road.
This house built in 1914 was the summer home of prominent Knoxvillian C.B. Atkin. It is named after Atkin's three daughters - Edith, Eleanor and Marion. Atkin was an important figure in Knoxville's history, the proprietor of several businesses, including the Fountain City Railway Company. He founded a furniture company that crafted furnishings for some of Knoxville's finest homes, and a business that manufactured fireplace mantles for elegant mansions nationwide. Atkin developed a large portion of Knoxville's Oakwood and Fountain City suburbs, and built two hotels and two theatres in downtown Knoxville.
The 30-acre-estate overlooking the Little River portion of Lake Loudon was subdivided into smaller lots and auctioned to the highest bidder. The new owner had requested a rezoning in order to develop the site but later withdrew the application. The MPC staff report, prepared in conjunction with the proposed rezoning of this property, called for historic zoning (HZ) to be placed on the 6600 square foot Atkin family home known as Edelmar and the surrounding parcel in order to guarantee preservation of this significant building.
Knox Heritage encourages the current owners to secure the house against vandalism and arson while they are planning for the future of the site. We also recommend the house be protected with historic zoning as part of any development plan for the larger site.