A Fourth and Gill House Brought Back From the Dead

Say the words "haunted house" and the image that springs to mind is inevitably a Victorian. Don't take my word for it, either: Drop by the nearest discount store and check out the heaps of cheap Halloween tchotchkes crowding the shelves. The specific styles vary—Eastlake, Queen Anne or, that Addams Family favorite, Second Empire—but there's something about a Victorian's vertical massing and spiky detail that's inherently spooky.

The fact that the 1950s commercialization of the holiday found the houses fading, unfashionable, and frequently abandoned didn't hurt, either. At their lowest ebb, there was certainly something scary about many Victorian-era neighborhoods. It's hard to believe now, but even Fourth and Gill had more than its share of abandoned houses with kudzu climbing the walls.

Fast-forward 30 years, though, and the neighborhood's now a trick-or-treating destination. It's not unusual for 200 kids to come by. And then there's the neighborhood party with a band, costume contest, and chili cook-off.

The neighborhood's no longer scary. But, ironically, there's a certain Frankenstein quality to most of those meticulously restored homes. Fixing up a historic home often means stitching together bits and pieces from the dead (or at least the demolished).

At least half a dozen homes contributed parts to this house on Luttrell, for instance. Cut up into three apartments (there was also a beauty parlor in the basement), it had lost many of its original features when the current owners commenced the renovations to return it to single family. As a result, it now contains a newel post from Fort Sanders, cast-iron fireplace covers from Charleston, and a couple of cypress mantles that the owner picked up in New Orleans while attending law school at Tulane. The staircase banister, ripped out when it was apartments, has been recreated; the spindles were milled from old-growth pine reclaimed from Fort Sanders. The window on the landing, meanwhile, came from a house on Dandridge demolished by the Mabry-Hazen Foundation (our back door on Washington Avenue came from the same source).

Some features are original, such as the wainscoting in the kitchen, or the pair of glass-doored cabinets flanking the window over the sink. The rest of the cabinetry was custom-made to match and fitted with wavy glass to fool the eye. The same goes for the built-in china cabinet in the dining room. In both cases, the work's so well done it's tricky to tell what's new and what's original.

All three baths are likewise a mix of old and new. There are two clawfoot tubs plus a rare pedestal style for the master. Also in the master is a new slate tile floor and a dual vanity of pink Tennessee marble set atop an antique sideboard. m

1022 Luttrell Street

2,500 sq. ft. (approx)

3 bdrm/3 bath

$330,000

For Sale by Owner:

525-1303