urban_renewal (2005-50)

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608 Caswell Ave.

DINKy? Don’t Bet on It

by Matt Edens

Conventional wisdom has it that DINKs are the dominant urban pioneers. Short for Dual Income, No Kids, the acronym is a catch-all for the yuppies and hipsters, gays and empty-nesters you’ll find living in loft condos and historic ’hoods in downtowns and inner cities across the country. Career-minded, bourgeois wage-earners with a bohemian attitude, they appreciate the charms of urban living but, being childless, can skip over many of challenges of 21st century urban America.

Downtown Knoxville and its satellite neighborhoods don’t stray too far from the DINK demographic, but there are some differences. Fourth and Gill, in particular, is home to a growing number of growing families who have settled in for the long haul rather than heading for the ’burbs once a baby comes along. Not out of necessity, either. With homes in the neighborhood often selling for over the $200,000 mark, most Fourth and Gill homesteaders could afford to live most anywhere in the city. Instead they’ve chosen Fourth and Gill and, on the whole, proudly profess that there is nowhere in Knoxville they’d rather live.

Granted, that’s a boast most folks out in the ’burbs would make as well. But how often are those words backed up with action? I know of multiple families in Fourth and Gill who have moved from house to house within the neighborhood as their family has grown, one advantage of having housing that’s diverse in size.

This house on Caswell is pretty typical of the trend. Purchased and renovated by a couple of first-time homeowners not quite 10 years ago, five years later they were expecting their first child. But, rather than flee for the ’burbs, they purchased another, bigger, house around the corner on Luttrell and sold their own to a friend and his fiancé. The second couple, since married, has also started a family in this home and, after the birth of their second child, followed the pattern established by the previous owners and bought a roomier house on Luttrell.

Which means that this lovely, lovingly restored Victorian, with its big front porch stretching across the length of the house and a loft-like living/dining room divided only by a freestanding fireplace, is up for grabs. Other features include a clawfoot tub and wainscoting in the bath, a charming kitchen with a stainless-steel range, old “schoolhouse”-style light fixtures and pressed-tin ceiling, plus a separate laundry room. Out back, there’s an organic garden with plenty of native plants and a carriage house that’s been converted into a studio apartment. But best of all, with totally updated plumbing and wiring and even new thermal-pane wood windows, all you have to do to this house is enjoy it.

And, perhaps, plan on someday buying a bigger one.

608 Caswell Ave.

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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