The current condo craze aside, there's actually nothing new about downtown residential. For most of its 225 years, downtown Knoxville was predominantly residential. As late as the 1920s the west side of downtown, particularly along Walnut and Locust, was dotted with old mansions. Most, by then, had been converted into tenements and offices (or, in the case of one McClung mansion, a Masonic Temple) but the buildings mostly remained. In fact, even Gay Street was home to a few homes, although they were soon to be demolished (or, in one instance, trucked out to East Knoxville) to make way for the Andrew Johnson Hotel.
Nowadays, however, you'll have to look long and hard to find a detached, single family home downtown. As far as I know, there's only one: the Mary Boyce Temple house, currently under restoration at the corner of Hill and Henley. (The handful of others, like the Blount Mansion or the aforementioned Masonic Temple, are no longer homes.)
So, since the Temple House is already taken, that makes this house on Victorian Way in the old World's Fair "Artist's Colony" about as close as you can live to Market Square without sharing a wall with someone (a little shy of 1,000 yards, as I eyeball it...)
That isn't the only thing that sets this home apart, however. Knox Heritage is currently wrapping up a complete renovation that combines historic preservation with the latest in green building practices. Final approval of the application is pending, but the renovation is also projected to receive Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Not that meeting such high standards was easy. The house was largely stripped of detail during its renovation for the 1982 World's Fair, and returning it to its original grandeur required using vintage trim, floors, and doors from Knox Heritage's architectural salvage collection. Other work includes all new poplar wood siding, new wiring and plumbing, a new kitchen, and baths with quartz countertops and low-flow water-conserving fixtures. Green upgrades include Energy Star-rated wood windows, a high efficiency HVAC system, and extensive, eco-friendly insulation. There are also solar panels hidden within the new standing seam metal roof that generate electricity and provide hot water.
In other words, the finished product will not only feature stunning craftsmanship and attention to detail, it will showcase the latest in utility-bill-lowering building materials and construction techniques (and make you the envy of old-house owners everywhere). Check it out at the open house this Saturday, Feb. 12, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Knox Heritage's "Green House"
1011 Victorian Way
2,250 sq. ft.
4 bdrm, 2.5 baths
Contact: Kim Trent: 523-8008