KNOX HERITAGE ANNOUNCES "FRAGILE 15" LIST OF ENDANGERED HISTORIC PLACES

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Knox Heritage announced its 2010 list of the most endangered historic buildings and places in Knoxville and Knox County on May 14 at 11:00 a.m. The announcement took place in the Maplehurst Neighborhood on W. Hill Avenue.

Every May during National Preservation Month, Knox Heritage releases its list of the most endangered historic buildings and places in Knox County to educate the public and local leaders about the plight of significant historic resources. Often, the endangered buildings and places are representative of issues that endanger similar parts of our heritage across the community.

The historic places included on the list are selected by the Knox Heritage Board of Directors from nominations received from members of Knox Heritage and the general public. The list provides a work plan for the organization over the next 12 months. Preservation strategies are developed for each site on the list and can include working with current property owners, government officials, citizens and/or potential new owners to preserve these important parts of Knox County's heritage. Knox Heritage is committed to acting as an advocate for the endangered properties we identify each year. We invite the community to join us in our efforts to save our endangered heritage through advocacy and action. To volunteer, please contact Knox Heritage at 523-8008 or info@knoxheritage.org.

Knox Heritage advocates for the preservation of places and structures with historic or cultural significance. Founded in 1974, Knox Heritage is the non-profit historic preservation organization for Knoxville and Knox County. It is governed by a board of directors with representatives from across our community. Knox Heritage carries out its mission through a variety of programs and encourages community support through education and advocacy.

 

2010 Knox County's Most Endangered Historic Places

 

1. Knoxville High School - 101 E. Fifth Avenue.


2. Martin-Russell House - 11409 Kingston Pike.


3. Cowan Cottage - 701 16th Street.


4. The Eugenia Williams House - 4848 Lyons View Pike.


5. Knoxville College National Register District - 901 College Street.


6. Standard Knitting Mill -1400 Washington Avenue.


7. Cal Johnson Building - 301 State Street.


8. Fort Sanders Houses & Grocery - 307 18th Street & 1802, 1804, 1810 Highland Avenue.


9. The McClung Warehouses - 501-525 W. Jackson Avenue.


10. The Pickle Mansion - 1633 Clinch Avenue.


11. Isaac Anderson Cabin - Creekrock Lane - Shannondale Valley Farms


12. Scenic Vistas and Ridgetops.
          - Fort Stanley
          - French Broad River Corridor


13. Vacant Historic Knox County School Buildings:
          - Oakwood Elementary (232 E. Churchwell Avenue)
          - South High (801 Tipton Avenue)
          - Rule High (1901 Vermont Avenue)


14. Odd Fellows Cemetery - 2001 Bethel Avenue.


15. Admiral David Farragut Birthplace. Stoney Point.

 

Descriptions of the 2010 Fragile 15 Endangered Historic Places


1. Knoxville High School - 101 E. Fifth Avenue.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Knoxville High School - 101 E. 5th Avenue.JPG

There is great excitement this year as alumni of Knoxville High School celebrate the building's 100th anniversary. Opened in 1910, Knoxville High School's Neoclassical design with Beaux Arts influences is an icon for the generations of Knoxvillians who walked its halls, including James Agee, Patricia Neal and John Cullum. Designed by the local firm Baumann Brothers and a part of the Emory Place National Register District, it was the first school to serve the whites throughout the city and was the only public high school for whites for many years. At the end of the 1950-1951 school year Knoxville High was closed and converted into administrative offices for the Knoxville Board of Education. Today it is owned by the Knox County School System.

Knoxville High School is showing signs of stress and deterioration due to years of deferred maintenance. Years of tight school budgets have required the Knox County School Board to make tough choices and, of course, the priority must be the classroom. However, it's time to take a fresh look at historic buildings owned by local governments and devise a new strategy for preserving the historic buildings owned by taxpayers.

Knox Heritage looks forward to working with the Knox County School System to devise a plan for preserving our community's heritage while being good stewards of these valuable assets.

 

2. Martin-Russell House - 11409 Kingston Pike.

Thumbnail image for Avery Russell House - 11409 Kingston Pike.JPGLocated at Campbell Station on the site where David Campbell built a blockhouse in 1787, this brick, Federal style house was built for Samuel Martin in 1835 or earlier as an inn. During the Martin family era the inn gained popularity and was visited by President Andrew Jackson, a close family friend. Just before the Civil War the inn was sold to Avery Russell who converted it into his family's residence. During the war it served as a hospital for soldiers injured at the Battle of Campbell's Station. The house has remained in the Russell family for six generations and stood watch as Knoxville sprawled toward it and the town of Farragut sprang up around it.

The Martin-Russell House has remained at its original location for 175 years, a rare feat in this part of the world. Its location was determined by the modes of transportation employed during the era it was built and it still stands at a heavily traveled crossroads. But its future is uncertain as the Russell family plans to sell the house. Even though it is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, there is nothing to prevent a new owner from demolishing the house and building a commercial structure in its place. At a minimum, the house should be protected by local historic zoning or a preservation easement to prevent its demolition. That will provide the opportunity for it to become the focal point it should be for the Town of Farragut as a new administration looks to enhance the community and embrace its history. Knox Heritage stands ready to work with the Russell family and the Town of Farragut to preserve and reuse this rare example of Knox County's earliest history.

 

3. Cowan Cottage. 701 16th Street.

Thumbnail image for Cowan Garderner's House - no address at corner of White and .JPGThis charming Queen Anne style cottage was originally a part of the estate of James Dickinson Cowan that once occupied an entire block in its neighborhood, known then as West Knoxville. It stood near the Cowan's massive Second Empire style home that was built in 1879 and then demolished in 1954 for Clement Hall. The structure stands at the corner of White Avenue and 16th Street and is suspected to have housed the European head gardener imported to manage the Cowans' impressive gardens and three greenhouses. It is one of only four 19th century structures still standing on property controlled by the University of Tennessee.

The cottage is vacant after decades of serving as a private residence and then housing UT student organizations. The building suffers from long term neglect and lack of maintenance. It is another example of limited resources causing the potential loss of historically significant structures owned by the University of Tennessee. Knox Heritage calls upon UT to review the current condition of the structure and work with interested parties to develop a plan to preserve and reuse the building.

 

4. Eugenia Williams House. 4848 Lyons View Pike.

Thumbnail image for Eugenia Williams House - 4848 Lyons View Pike.JPGEugenia Williams was born to Dr. David H. Williams and Ella Cornick Williams in January 1900. Dr. Williams was a prominent physician and one of the original financial backers who introduced Coca-Cola to East Tennessee.  In 1940, Eugenia commissioned her childhood friend, John Fanz Staub, to design her new residence. Staub, a native Knoxvillian from one of the city's prominent families, is best known for designing homes for many of the wealthiest and most influential Texans, with a little over half of his design work located in Houston. He was also the architect for the well-loved Hopecote on the UT Knoxville campus.

Miss Williams' Regency-style home sits on 24 acres bordering the Tennessee River and Lyons View Pike and features a three-car garage with automatic garage door openers, which was a novelty in 1940. In 1998, the house was willed to the University of Tennessee as a memorial to Eugenia's father. Since Miss Williams' death the house has been plagued by vandals and a lack of the most basic maintenance, but its character-defining details remain and the house is still solid. We strongly encourage UT to move forward with plans for this signature property and maximize its benefit to the University and the Knoxville area before it is too late. Specifically, Knox Heritage stands ready to assist the University in navigating the legal means available to sell the property to a private buyer interested in fulfilling Miss Williams' wishes that the house and property be preserved.

 

5. Knoxville College National Register District - 901 College Street.

Thumbnail image for Knoxville College NR District - 901 College Street - Elnatha.JPGKnoxville 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 ten buildings, eight of which contribute to the district.  Knoxville College has significantly contributed to the educational and spiritual welfare of the African American population in Tennessee since 1875. The campus was the first African American college in East Tennessee and hosted prominent figures such as Frederick Douglass, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois and Martin Luther King, Jr.


The buildings at Knoxville College are a tribute to the creativity and resourcefulness of the student body. While pursuing their education, students assisted in the design and construction of 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.


6. Standard Knitting Mill.

Standard Knitting Mill - 1400 Washington Avenue.JPGThis circa 1945 building is the only remaining structure associated with Standard Knitting Mill.  By the 1930's Standard was the largest textile and knitting mill in Knoxville. It was founded in 1900 with 50 employees and over the years grew to employ over 4,000 Knoxvillians.  Standard eventually produced over one million garments a week and inspired Knoxville's title as "Underwear Capital of the World."

The future is uncertain for Standard Knitting Mill. Located in the industrial swath of land between the historic Parkridge and Fourth and Gill Neighborhoods, the original portion of the mill was in place along Washington Avenue by 1903. Later additions almost doubled the size of the complex, but the earliest portion was destroyed in the early 1990s. The current footprint still comes in at over 400,000 square feet and was the home of Delta Apparel until 2007. As Delta made plans to relocate, The Landmark Group out of North Carolina appeared on the scene. The developer was interested in the Knoxville mill and proposed that Delta donate the mill, appraised at just over $2 million, to a non-profit organization in exchange for a charitable deduction equal to the value of the property. The non-profit could then sell the building to a developer. The Landmark Group planned to purchase the property from the non-profit and reportedly planned to spend up to $50 million creating a mixed-use development.

In June of 2007 Delta Apparel donated the mill and surrounding land to The Mid-Atlantic Foundation in Goldsboro, North Carolina. Since that transfer, the mill, a highly visible landmark along I-40 on the east side of downtown, has stood dark and empty. Back in the summer of 2007, there were no plans for the new owners to maintain the sprinkler system and the roof had already developed several leaks.  The building is now for sale.


It's time for the owner and the community to ensure the future existence of Standard Knitting Mill. The Mid-Atlantic Foundation must secure the building immediately and make the sprinkler system operational. The City of Knoxville, KCDC and the Knoxville Area Chamber Partnership should step up to help market the site for redevelopment that preserves the building and complements the renaissance underway in the surrounding historic neighborhoods. The site is adjacent to the new Hall of Fame Drive, close to downtown and highly visible from the interstate. This makes for an attractive location and incentives already exist that can be utilized to spur its redevelopment.

 

7. Cal Johnson Building.

Thumbnail image for The Cal Johnson Building - 301 State Street.JPG

This State Street building (circa 1898) was built in the Vernacular Commercial style and was originally housed a clothing factory. It was constructed by Knoxville's first African American philanthropist and is a rare example of a large commercial structure built by a former slave.  Cal Johnson also served as a city alderman during his extensive career, which included the operation of several area saloons and one of Knoxville's most popular and durable horse racing tracks. It could be a featured site in efforts to encourage heritage tourism related to Knox County's African American residents and their ancestors.

The building is threatened by long term, ongoing deterioration and a lack of maintenance. Knox Heritage seeks to work with the property owner to make necessary repairs and capitalize on the current level of downtown redevelopment to spur the reuse of this important structure before it is too late.

 

8. 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 chain link fencing and the 18th Street IGA's continued operation 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

Thumbnail image for Ft. Sanders Houses - 307 18th Street IGA.JPGThis 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

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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

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Ft. Sanders House - 1804 Highland Avenue.JPG This Victorian Cottage was built circa 1898 and the first owner was Reverend Isaac Van Dewater.

 

1810 Highland Avenue

 Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Ft. Sanders Houses - 1810 Highland Avenue.JPGThis 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.

 

9. The McClung Warehouses - 501-525 W. Jackson Avenue.

Thumbnail image for The McClung Warehouses - 501-525 W. Jackson Avenue.JPGThese highly visible buildings on Jackson Avenue were originally built as wholesale warehouses and are a reminder of the era when Knoxville was one of the leading wholesale centers in the Southeast. The buildings at 517-521 were built in 1911, and 525 was added in 1927. The buildings were originally built as wholesale warehouses for the C.M. McClung & Company, a wholesale and hardware supply company.

Over three years after an inferno destroyed half of the McClung Warehouse complex on Jackson Avenue, there has been little progress made to rescue Knoxville's most visible endangered buildings. The fire illustrated the worst-case scenario for vacant and blighted historic buildings. Three historic buildings were lost, at least hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage was caused and one thriving business owner lost everything and was displaced.

The opportunity still exists to redevelop the remaining buildings into loft and retail space, thus improving the tax base for all Knox County residents. A structural analysis of the remaining buildings conducted at the request of the City of Knoxville revealed they are sound and suitable for redevelopment. Recent legal action by creditors has forced the current owner into bankruptcy and will likely result in the liquidation of assets to satisfy their claim. We strongly encourage the newly appointed bankruptcy trustee to move quickly to sell the buildings to a developer capable of restoring and revitalizing these important downtown structures to encourage further investment in the surrounding Jackson Avenue corridor.

 

10. The Pickle Mansion.  - 1633 Clinch Avenue.

Thumbnail image for The Pickle Mansion - 1633 Clinch Avenue.JPGThe Pickle Mansion was built in 1889 in the Queen Anne style.  It was built of solid masonry construction with a brick veneer wall covering over 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 the victim of a disastrous fire 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 new 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. If not, the City of Knoxville should proceed with codes enforcement through the Demolition by Neglect Ordinance.

 

11. Isaac Anderson Cabin. Creekrock Lane.

Thumbnail image for Isaac Anderson - no adddress - sits behind 4709 Creekrock La.JPGIn 1802 Isaac Anderson's family constructed this two-story log house on their land in north Knox County. He had recently been named the pastor for Washington Presbyterian Church. During this time Anderson built a large, two-story log school building on the site that has since been demolished. He named his school Union Academy, but it was known to many as Mr. Anderson's Log College. The academy operated there until 1812 when Anderson moved his school to Maryville and became pastor of New Providence Presbyterian Church. He went on to found Maryville College in 1819.

The hewn-log Anderson cabin survived for the next 200 years before residential development literally encircled it and put its future in jeopardy. It now stands in the backyard of a modern suburban house.

Recently there has been an effort to move the Anderson Cabin to the Maryville College campus in order to protect it and its place in the college's history. Knox Heritage supports those efforts and encourages East Tennessee residents to work with the preservationists spearheading this effort to identify funding to relocate and restore the structure.

 

12. Scenic Vistas and Ridgetops: Fort Stanley & French Broad River Corridor.


While Knox Heritage is best known for the preservation of historic structures, our mission includes the protection of historic spaces as well.  In recent years East Tennesseans have become aware of the threats to some of our most precious assets: our Scenic Vistas and Ridgetops. Progress has been seen in the preservation of Log Haven by the Aslan Foundation and the work of the Legacy Parks Foundation, but there is more work to do.


Part of the significance of these areas is that they almost always include archaeological sites that may, as in the case of Fort Higley, Fort Dickerson and Fort Stanley, have been built along the ridgetops. They may also include pre-historic archaeological deposits located in valleys, along streams and rivers and visible from Knox County's scenic roads.

Writers often describe Knoxville as being "nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains."  More than most cities, Knoxville is defined by the ridges and rivers that surround it.  The views we enjoy today are similar to the views early Knoxvillians took in and cherished.  But those views are threatened by development that is not asked to address the costs imposed on the community for its associated infrastructure and quality of life.

Our local governments should act with haste to approve ordinances and plans designed to preserve the signature views that distinguish our community from most others in the country. Plans for future development should minimize the impact on view sheds and ridgetops in order to preserve the stunning scenes that attract visitors and connect people to the place where they live.


Fort Stanley.

Thumbnail image for Fort Stanley 1.jpgThe remains of this earthworks Civil War fort mark the place where Union troops from Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Ohio joined the 8th Tennessee and 16th Kentucky regiments to protect the southern approaches to Knoxville. Fort Stanley, named for Captain C. E. Stanley of the 45th Ohio, who fell in battle at Philadelphia, TN, was built on the highest hill, several weeks after Fort Dickerson was constructed. This hill, just east of Dickerson, rises steeply, 360 feet above the river directly opposite the south end of Gay Street and has been known for generation as "Gobbler's Knob."

The 1,000 acre Urban Wilderness and Historic Corridor paralleling the South Knoxville Waterfront Development will contain three civil war forts, historic settlement sites, and diverse ecological features and recreational amenities. The project requires the acquisition of several critical parcels of land, including properties that house the Civil War battle sites of Fort Stanley and Fort Higley. Fort Dickerson, a restored site, lies between these two properties and offers Knoxville the unique prospect of three contiguous Civil War forts.
Knox Heritage is working with the Legacy Parks Foundation to preserve these important Civil War forts and encourages Knoxvillians to contribute financially to their efforts to preserve Fort Stanley and the entire Urban Wilderness and Historic Corridor.

 

French Broad River Corridor.

Thumbnail image for French Broad 2.JPGThe 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. The first steam-powered riverboat (Atlas) arrived at Forks of the River on the Tennessee River in 1828 and was greeted by Ramsey upon its arrival. It was the beginning of riverboat commerce to Knoxville.

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, 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. Vacant Historic Knox County School Buildings:


Oakwood Elementary School - 232 E. Churchwell Avenue

Thumbnail image for Oakwood Elementary - 232 E. Churchwell Avenue.JPGThis Oakwood neighborhood icon is currently owned by the Knox County School System and is used for storage. The later addition is occupied by the Teacher Supply Depot. The Knox County School System has moved all of its activities out of the building and has discussed plans to sell it for private development. Last year the Knox County School Board voted to allow the East Tennessee Community Design Center to work with residents to create a plan for the building. Due to the rapid deterioration of the building, Knox Heritage calls upon the School Board to act immediately to make the repairs necessary to stabilize the historic portion of the building. If this is not done soon, little will be left after the planning process to attract private redevelopment of the structure. Time is rapidly running out for Oakwood School.

 

South High School - 801 Tipton Avenue.

Thumbnail image for South High - 801 Tipton Avenue.JPGSouth High was designed by noted local architect Charles Barber and was built in 1935-1936 as South Knoxville Junior High School. The school opened in 1937. Barber was the primary architect of 14 schools in Knoxville and Knox County prior to 1940. It served as a junior high school and a high school until the last graduating class in 1976. The building sustained serious roof damage over the next three decades and that water infiltration has harmed the structural integrity of parts of the building.

Preservationists and residents of South Knoxville began their efforts to save historic South High in 2002. In 2004 the Knox County School Board surplused the building to Knox County so it could be redeveloped as a community asset. County Commission voted to auction the building to the highest bidder last year. The high bidder at the June 2008 auction was Bahman Kasraei. Mr. Kasraei expressed his intent to preserve the building, but construction was delayed. The roof of the building has been replaced, but it is just the beginning of the construction process and the rear of portion of the building is open to vandals so the potential for arson is high. Knox Heritage strongly encourages Mr. Kasraei to proceed as quickly as possible to complete the stabilization of the building and identify a use that will insure the long term preservation of this South Knoxville landmark.

 

Rule High - 1901 Vermont Avenue

Thumbnail image for Rule High - 1901 Vermont Avenue.JPGRule High School was named after Captain William Rule, a former Union Army Captain who went on to become the mayor of Knoxville,  as well as publisher and editor of the Knoxville Journal from 1885 until his death in 1928.  Rule High School was built in circa 1926-1927 and opened in the fall of 1927.  The school closed in 1991 and is currently owned by the Knox County School Board which leases it to a non-profit organization.

The school continues to languish in a deteriorated state and the resources for its preservation are lacking. Knox Heritage encourages the Knox County School Board to review the existing lease arrangement and identify potential users with the financial ability to preserve and reuse the structure.

 

14. Odd Fellows Cemetery - 2001 Bethel Avenue.

Thumbnail image for Odd Fellows Cemetery 1 - 2001 Bethel Avenue.JPGThe Odd Fellows Cemetery was established between 1880 and 1885 when four separate African American social organizations bought the land to create the cemetery. It is named after the Banner Lodge Chapter of the Odd Fellows Fraternal Order that was established in February 1882.  Many prominent African Americans are buried there, including Calvin "Cal" Johnson, Knoxville's first African American millionaire, and William Yardley, a former City Alderman and 1876 candidate for governor of Tennessee.

The organization that created Odd Fellows Cemetery no longer exists and this has left the cemetery in limbo for decades. Various efforts by local governments and citizens groups have prevented the complete destruction of the cemetery, but the financial resources required to restore and maintain the many grave markers and interpret the site for a new generation of Knoxvillians have never been secured. This leaves the site vulnerable to vandalism and decay. It is a problem plaguing historic cemeteries across the region.

Knox Heritage is working with groups and citizens interested in establishing a "friends" organization for the cemetery, similar to the group that maintains Old Gray Cemetery on Broadway. Until a long term plan and sustainable sources of funding can be found, the cemetery will remain endangered.

 

15. Farragut Birthplace. Stoney Point Farm.

Thumbnail image for Farragut Birthplace monument.jpgThe birthplace of Civil War hero and America's first Navy Admiral David Farragut is visible today because of a historical marker dedicated there in 1900 by Admiral George Dewey. Admiral Dewey was a hero of the Spanish America War who served with Farragut during the Battle of Mobile Bay and admired him greatly. The marker was donated by the Daughters of the American Revolution.

The home where Farragut was born disappeared long ago and only archeological evidence is believed to remain, but the site is likely one of Knox County's most nationally significant places. The marker and the site of the birthplace are on land owned by Farragut's father in the 1790s when he operated a ferry at Stoney Point, later known as Lowe's Ferry. Despite Farragut's national prominence and the enthusiasm displayed for his birthplace at the turn of the last century, the site had all but slipped into obscurity until a proposed residential development threatened to destroy it. Although public access is guaranteed to the former ferry landing along the waterfront property owned by Knox County, the site of Farragut's birth is on land slated for residential development that could block access to the site and destroy archaeological evidence of Farragut's birth and youth.

Knox Heritage seeks to work with the current property owner and Knox County government to enhance public access to this highly significant historic site while providing a positive impact for the residential development. By combining the resources of preservationists, Knox County, TVA and the property owner, the Farragut birthplace can achieve the level of prominence it deserves in this community.

 

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This page contains a single entry by Kim Trent published on May 20, 2010 10:26 PM.

Knox Heritage Offers Cash, Plan to Stabilize Eugenia Williams House was the previous entry in this blog.

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