urban_renewal (2006-08)

Sequoyah Hills has cache plus amenities

Gentrified Gentry

by Matt Edens

A couple hundred loft-dwellers have drastically altered downtown’s demographics, Old North Knoxville and Fourth and Gill have become gentrified, and the rising prices in all three are pushing pioneers into place like Parkridge, Oakwood and Lincoln Park. But those aren’t the city’s only ’hoods to become increasingly upscale—they’re merely the ones where the demographic shift has been most dramatic. Farther west, outside of what is traditionally thought of as the inner city, even Sequoyah Hills has seen its share of “gentrification.”

From 1990 to 2000, the number of Sequoyah Hills households earning six figures nearly doubled—no mean feat since, in 1990, there were more than 300 households making $100K or more. It isn’t just a case of the rich getting richer, either: Nearly half the neighborhood’s residents lived elsewhere five years ago. And, while downtown and Fourth and Gill have made considerable gains, the wooded hills of Sequoyah remain a premier destination for upper-income professionals looking to put down roots. (The number of neighborhood residents with graduate and professional degrees increased more than 15 percent during the ’90s.)

But, while the migration of upper-income professionals into Sequoyah and downtown’s neighborhoods do show some similarities, the numbers also show one marked divergence. For Sequoyah, a higher percentage of the folks moving in came from elsewhere in Knox County. In neighborhoods like Old North and Fourth and Gill, more of the migrants came from out of state.

What accounts for the difference? Perception, probably: For folks from bigger cities, the sidewalks and front porches of Fourth and Gill’s streets suggest small-town America, not the inner city, and the name Sequoyah Hills has little meaning. But live in Knoxville for a few years and “Sequoyah Hills” takes on more meaning—much of it synonymous with power, prestige and old money—even if, as the numbers suggests, most of the neighborhood’s money isn’t all that old anymore.

Cache, however, is hardly the only reason people with means move to Sequoyah—at least not directly. After more than a half-century as one of Knoxville’s most affluent neighborhoods, the community has considerable amenities: a great elementary school, one of the city’s premier parks and first-class housing stock.

Consider houses like this one on Arrowhead Trail. Built in 1930 and combining historic touches like French doors and oak floors with more modern craftsmanship (such as granite counters, custom cabinets and a commercial-grade range that grace the recently renovated kitchen), this classic Colonial Revival style house is typical of what you’ll find in most of Sequoyah’s older homes.

And, despite the neighborhoods “old money” origins there’s nothing stiff or stodgy about this place, particularly the double decks overlooking the rear of the lot. Partially enclosed with screened-in and glassed-in sunroom spaces, they’re perfect for casual entertaining.

512 Arrowhead Trail