Continuing a family tradition
by Matt Edens
Nearly three decades before its current residential renaissance, at least one visionary looked at Knoxvilleâ’s down-at-the-heels downtown and saw potential. Whatâ’s more, he started investing, picking up a vintage Victorian saloon here or a rundown bunch of rowhouses there.
At the time, a lot of folks no doubt thought Kristopher Kendrick (whose company is the longtime sponsor of this column) was crazy, buying up old buildings that no one else seemed to want, but is there any doubt that Knoxvilleâ’s downtown would be much more drab if he hadnâ’t saved Patrick Sullivanâ’s, Kendrick Place, or any of the dozen or so other buildings that passed through his diverse collection?
Kendrick is semi-retired today. Several of his properties are now part of other developersâ’ portfolios. And of course, downtownâ’s a very different place than it was 25 years ago. More expensive and more mainstream, the eccentric, almost subversive thrill of living there has faded somewhat, too. Inevitable, I suppose, but also a shame if, like me, youâ’re the sort of person who wants their abode to be a little on the daring side.
Luckily, there are still lots of daring opportunities, and developers, out there. Kendrickâ’s son Kent, for instance, is carrying on the family tradition by buying, renovating, and reselling homes in Parkridge. â“His M.O. was to always look for architecturally distinctive structures that looked unloved,â” says Kent Kendrick of his father, â“and Parkridge is just a treasure trove of things like that.â”
This perfectly proportioned little bungalow on Jefferson Avenue, for instance, sat empty the entire 12 years I lived in Parkridge. I even tried to buy it once, but could never come to terms with the woman whoâ’d inherited it from her late motherâ’s estate. Nor could I quite figure out how to make the numbers work. At the time, the house had only one bedroom as well as a handsome formal dining room and entry foyer.
The foyer and dining room remain, but Kendrick has come up with a clever solution to the single bedroom by adding access to what was the attic. A new staircase, so carefully crafted youâ’d never know it wasnâ’t original, leads from the foyer to a large second floor master suite, complete with skylights. Meanwhile, the rest of the house has been meticulously restored and renovated with new kitchen cabinets, granite countertops, even a working fireplace. Outside, with improvements like copper gutters and a fenced backyard, the house no longer looks unloved, but it remains a treasure.
1704 Jefferson Ave.
1,567 sq. ft.
2 bdrm, 2 bath
Bob Everidge, Kristopher & Co.
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