The Daily Pulse:

Historic Huffaker house demolished

From a Knox Heritage press release:

Significant Antebellum Structure in French Broad River Corridor with Ties to Wright Brothers Was Listed on Knox Heritage's "Fragile Fifteen"
KNOXVILLE, TENN. - The historic Huffaker-Gose House, located at 7311 Huffaker Ferry Road in Southeast Knox County, was demolished sometime last week by its current owner, Dr. William M. Hovis of Hovis Orthopaedic Clinic.  The Huffaker-Gose House was listed on Knox Heritage's Fragile Fifteen and was architecturally, historically, and culturally significant to the entire East Tennessee region.

The original two-story, heavy timber frame structure was built circa 1830 in the Georgian style and had later, architecturally significant, Victorian vernacular additions.  Catherine Huffaker and her sons lived in the house and ran the nearby ferry connecting Seven Islands to the Frazier Bend communities.  Her descendants continued to live in the house and operate the ferry for over 100 years, until 1935, when the parents of Lewis Gose bought the house.  Mr. Gose took over the ferry operation in 1937.  The Huffaker Ferry was sunk during the filming of the movie "All the Way Home" in 1964.  The ferry landing remains, providing insight into commerce and life along the French Broad River.  Dr. Hovis has owned the property since the mid 1990s.

Tennessee State Law (T.C.A. ยง 7-51-1201) prohibits the demolition of residential structures without prior approval by the local legislative body, when the structure meets the following three criteria:
(1)   The residential structure was originally constructed before 1865;
(2)  The residential structure is reparable at a reasonable cost; and
(3)  The residential structure has a historical significance besides age itself, including, but not limited to, uniqueness of architecture, occurrence of historical events, notable former residents, design by a particular architect, or construction by a particular builder.
In June 2011, the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department (SFVD) had planned to hold a controlled burn exercise on the Huffaker-Gose house as a training opportunity for the firefighters. Knox Heritage staff read a newspaper article announcing the exercise and informed Dr. Hovis and the SVFD of the significance of the house and about the State Law.  The house was spared from the burn.  Knox Heritage continued to communicate with Dr. Hovis and had identified a potential buyer who was willing to preserve the house.

The Huffaker-Gose house was one of very few frame houses built in this period that was still standing in Knox County.  Furthermore, based on related research, it is highly likely that Edward Huffaker (1856-1937) was born and/or lived in this house. Edward Huffaker was an early aviation pioneer, and wrote an essay entitled "On Soaring Flight" that the Wright Brothers studied. Huffaker even worked with the Wrights in 1901, just two years before their monumental flight in Kitty Hawk, NC.  Writer Jack Neely explored this fascinating story in an article published in Metropulse last June:

The French Broad River corridor, because of its relative isolation and lack of urban infrastructure, has retained its historic places, scenery, breathtaking views and vistas and its glimpses of Knox County history during the 18th and early 19th centuries and for centuries before.  Some of its buildings are well-maintained, and still utilized by descendants of the families prominent in the 18th and 19th centuries.  Others are vacant or deteriorating; if they are lost, a large portion of this portrait of early Knox County will also be lost.

Knox Heritage advocates for the preservation of places and structures with historic or cultural significance.  For more information, visit
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