The Nashville-based Tennessee Historic Trust released its annual “Ten Most Endangered Historic Sites in Tennessee” list on Tuesday. Knoxville appeared on the list twice, both for academic neighborhoods.
Knoxville College, the long-struggling historically black college overlooking Mechanicsville near downtown, hit #9 in the statewide list: “Some of the Nationally Registered buildings are vacant and abandoned. The buildings that are used are in need of maintenance and are in danger of deterioration and/or vandalism.” The college, between presidents, has been struggling with declining enrollment for years.
Next, and rounding out the statewide top 10, was a bigger surprise: the “Temple Avenue Neighborhood.” If you’ve never heard of Temple Avenue, it’s because it’s now considered part of Volunteer Boulevard, on UT campus. “The buildings are significant for their architecture and represent the historic architectural development patterns of Knoxville over the past century,” according to the Trust’s listing. “The university has announced plans to demolish the last remnants of the residential neighborhood....” They don’t mention individual buildings. A Temple Avenue residential neighborhood would include the Tyson House, currently in good shape and used by the university for hospitality functions; it’s not believed by local authorities to be threatened.
Besides it, only four buildings remain from pre-UT days: Aconda Court and Temple Court, the 1920s apartment buildings which were long ago requisitioned for university offices and long targeted for demolition, and a couple of old houses on the same block, including an early home of industrialist-inventor Weston Fulton.