This year Knoxville will turn 225 years old.
Personally, I don't think it looks a day over 120.
Let me explain. There's an old lithograph hanging on the wall of my office—a bird's-eye view of Knoxville, ca. 1889. It's an impressive-looking place, the densely packed buildings crowding the plateau between First and Second creeks and starting to spill over into the surrounding hills. But what's most surprising about that picture is that almost all of those buildings—where approximately 30,000 people lived, worked, and played—are gone.
Think about it. How many buildings around town predate the 1890s? Even downtown, 19th-century buildings aren't as common as you might think. Many of Gay Street's oldest buildings, for instance, date to the early 20th century rush of rebuilding after 1897's famed "Million Dollar Fire."
The historic neighborhoods around downtown aren't any older, either. There are a few 1880s houses here and there—mostly in Mechanicsville and Fort Sanders or the southern fringes of Fourth and Gill. Much of what was older—the houses crowding that lithograph—got torn down long ago, demolished as the city matured, often making way for structures that are now historic in their own right. The Post Office, Andrew Johnson Hotel, and Medical Arts Building all displaced earlier mansions, much as the University of Tennessee's recently restored Ayres Hall rose on the site of the college's original antebellum buildings. Commercial development around downtown's fringes displaced other old homes, as did the expanding industrial area east of the Old City. And then there was the interstate and urban renewal. As a result, most of Knoxville's "historic center city" is barely 100 years old. Indeed, a good bit of it was built within living memory.
When this house on Boyd's Bridge Pike was built around 1923, it was "a very country area," according to the original owner's 89-year-old daughter. Her father ran a flower shop on Gay Street, not far from Regas restaurant, and grew many of the blooms in a series of greenhouses that stood behind the house.
Today, the greenhouses are gone, along with the original farm/nursery. But the area remains relatively country, a neighborhood of large lots and wooded hills a mere four miles from Market Square.
At one point divided into apartments, the house has been beautifully restored with refinished woodwork and hardwood floors, even a working wood-burning fireplace in the living room. Other upgrades include a detached deck in the backyard, perfectly placed to capture the view of Mount LeConte. There is also a separate garage apartment on the two-acre lot that can provide guest accommodations or rental income.
3609 Boyds Bridge Pike
2,500 sq. ft. (+ 540 sq.ft. apartment)
3 bedrm/2 bath (+1bed/bath apt)
Contact: Paula Thomas Realty Executives: