Try your hand at inn-keeping
by Matt Edens
What do you do when your dream succeeds beyond your wildest dreams? Dream bigger, if you’re the owners of the Brimer House Inn on the corner of Armstrong and Glenwood in Old North Knoxville.
The first true bed and breakfast in the heart of one of the city’s oldest historic districts, the inn started off as a sideline venture for its owners, an offshoot of their interests as avid home restorers, neighborhood activists and preservation advocates. Opening up their spectacularly restored home seemed like a great opportunity to introduce newcomers to what historic Knoxville has to offer and, perhaps, make their passion for preservation pay its own way.
But, like most old house projects, the experiment in inn-keeping took on a life of its own, becoming so successful that the sideline business became an all-consuming one (even with the aide of an additional employee). And bookings show no sign in letting up. The phone’s been ringing non-stop since a recent profile in Southern Living, anecdotal evidence of something I’ve suspected for awhile: Despite the efforts movers and shakers have spent trying to finagle a fancy new headquarters hotel to go with the convention center, Knoxville’s heretofore untapped market of historic accommodations and heritage tourism is surprisingly strong (perhaps, like loft housing downtown, our “leaders” will eventually come around to the idea and claim it was theirs all along…).
So where does that leave our pioneering innkeepers? Seeking the next frontier, naturally, and the next down at the heels house in need of renovation to match their need of a project. Which means that, instead of renting a room for the night, you can buy the Brimer House outright.
And you’d be hard pressed to find a finer home in any of Knoxville’s historic districts. Built in 1909 as the home of Wilson Brimer, a successful building contractor whose projects included the Millers Building on Gay Street and the Blount County Courthouse, the house has been immaculately restored, right down to the original painted frieze of fruit, vines and wine on the dining room walls and the custom-made reproduction of the foyer’s original wallpaper (a swatch of the original now resides at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum). Plus, since the house has been a bed and breakfast, you get the kind of conveniences many old house owners can only dream of: one full bath per bedroom for a total of four and a half.
So, if you’re looking for a fine executive home, or want to be the executive of your own home-based business, pick up the phone and make your reservation. m
The Brimer House
203 W. Glenwood Ave.
4 bdrm/4.5 bath
3,600 sq. ft.
Steve Hill, Elite Realty