urban_renewal (2006-02)

Knoxville’s next preservation frontier lies in Parkridge

Renovation Sprawl

When it comes to homebuyers, out-of-towners tend to dominate Knoxville’s historic neighborhoods. The reason is two-fold. First, since Knoxville is behind the curve on things like center-city revitalization, they’ve likely lived in cities where the historic neighborhoods near downtown are considered highly desirable real estate. Second, they come to Knoxville and see what houses are selling for in places like Fourth and Gill and Old North Knoxville and are often shocked that they are so cheap compared to what they are used to (granted, all housing in Knoxville is cheap, but compare Knoxville’s historic districts with others around the country and the disparity is often astounding).

Yet, while the buyers are often from out of town, the developers driving the market are often homegrown, the result of neighborhood residents who, after buying and renovating their own homes, have found the rehab process, well, addictive.

Old North Knoxville resident Daniel Schuh is a prime example. An architect by training, he renovated one house in Fort Sanders while still in school. Then, after a stint in Charleston, S.C., as a commercial architect, he came back to Knoxville and moved into a Victorian fixer-upper on Oklahoma. But the habit didn’t end there. Looking at where prices were and convinced by his experience in Charleston that they could go higher, he formed Knoxville Preservation and Development and made buying, renovating and reselling historic homes his full-time business. It’s basic entrepreneurship, really: Spot a trend, project where it’s going and try and get in front of it.

Which brings me to this house in Parkridge. Schuh’s work has primarily been concentrated in Old North, but as fixer-uppers become fewer and farther between, he’s been trying to get in front of the trend again, landing in what is shaping up to be one of Knoxville preservation’s next frontiers, if real estate transfers and recent renovation activity are any indication. (The beautiful bungalow on Jefferson Avenue that was featured on Dec. 29?  It’s already under contract.)

And, by purchasing this 1910 late Victorian on Washington Avenue, you could easily snag one of Parkridge’s prime properties. Not only does it have gorgeous floors, French doors, and loads of stained glass, there’s also a wonderful built-in bookcase tucked under the beautifully preserved staircase and fancy fretwork in the double door between the parlor and dining room. For another unique feature, step out of a Jefferson Avenue window just off the master bedroom for a broad balcony atop the front porch.

But the best thing about this house is that it is no longer a fixer-upper, thanks to its homegrown developer.

Oh, and the realtor’s homegrown, too—she has a house just up the street. If you’d care to meet her, and perhaps a few more of the neighbors, stop by for the open house from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 13. Or, at least check out the interior photos at www.buyhistoriccallme.com .

2023 Washington Ave.