by Matt Edens
When I started writing about center-city living for Metro Pulse in the early '90s, the first challenge of buying a home in one of Knoxville's historic neighborhoods was finding it. The Internet was in its infancy. Realtors rarely bothered with marketing. And, if an old house for sale in the center-city was advertised, chances are the caption said something like â“cash flowâ” or â“attention investors.â” Back then, you either drove around hunting â“for saleâ” signs in neighborhoods most Knoxvillians rarely ventured into, or you heard about a house via the guerrilla network of neighborhood activists, old-house enthusiasts and crazy urbanists who clung to the insane idea that people would actually want to live downtown.
Things, obviously, have changed. Knoxville, after years of knocking downtown as dead and dangerous, has embraced the alternative: 21-story condo towers proposed on State Street? Luxury lofts selling for a half-million or more? Quarter million dollar listings in Old North Knoxville and Fourth and Gill? Even I would have laughed at the notion not so long ago. Yet right now, according to realtor.com , there are eight homes on the market in Old North or Fourth and Gill for at least that much. (In fact, you'll be hard pressed to find even a fixer-upper for less than $150,000.)
Those eight the web search pulled up, by the way, are only the ones currently listed with a realtor. The prices have gone up, but the old guerrilla network is still in place. A surprising amount of real estate gets sold in Knoxville's historic districts without even formally hitting the market, much less the MLS. This grand home on Oklahoma, for example, is for sale by owner.
Walk through the door and it is easy to see why: This circa 1895 Queen Anne all but sells itselfâ"frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if it gets snapped up before this piece makes it to print. For starters, there's tons of intact original features: hardwood floors, six-panel doors with leaded transoms, loads of trim, six fireplaces with the original mantels and grates and two built-in cabinets in the dining room. And those good bones have been augmented with a full restoration and lavish upgrades: a brand-new sunroom, remodeled kitchen with granite tops, stainless appliances, cherry cabinetry and tile floors and a recently redone bathroom with claw-foot tub, wainscoting and crown molding and a $3,000 art-glass chandelier that's only one of many magnificent decorating touches.
The sellers also own Market Square dÃ©cor mainstays Bliss and Bliss Home, so it should be no surprise that this place's picture-perfect blend of lovingly restored history and contemporary style has been featured on both the DIY and Fine Living networks. And, since the owners are amenable to selling the home partially furnished, buy this house and you'll soon be living in bliss. m
225 E. Oklahoma 2,514 sq. ft. 4 bdrm/2 bath $259,900 For sale by owner 256-2469 or 256-8100 Open House: Sunday, June 3, 2-4 PM http://www.oldnorthknoxville.org/225OK.htm
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