Letter: Preserving City Culture

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602 S. Gay Street
2nd Floor
Knoxville, TN 37902

I recently read your article on the three historic Victorian houses on White Avenue that the university plans on tearing down in the near future. [“Hearts We Leave Behind,” Secret History, June 21, 2012] I am writing to tell you that I agree with Jack Neely, in that the Victorian houses should remain standing. It is an absolute shame that these beautiful and culturally historic homes can be taken from their current owners and demolished so the university can spend my tuition money to build another monstrously useless building. These houses host many memories for me and my friends and are not only important to me but also many others in the Knoxville area. All three of these 1890 Victorian houses have been pretty well-kept compared to other, less historically significant houses I have seen in the Fort that the university ought to consider knocking down.

Furthermore, these houses should remain standing because of the traditions they have had in Knoxville. For years, these homes have housed many authority figures in Knoxville’s population. Since 1907, many of these citizens include Knoxville’s very own judge, veterans, the dean of our university, and the dean of engineering. Their longstanding history dates back from the 1890s and Tennessee is quick to tear down the home without a second thought. Knoxville is full of history and these homes are an essential part of the city.

These houses host memories of my dear friend who passed away this past spring. Today, our friends are proud tenants of the house number 1302 and have previously lived in house number 1312. I shared many fond memories with him in these houses, where we relaxed and laughed on his porch for hours. Every day as I pass these houses I am reminded of the memories we shared together. It brings me joy to see these houses standing and to be continuously filled with others making their own memories. These houses are important to me because they are the last physical edifices that house the memories we all shared together. I would one day hope to return to Knoxville and be able reminisce on the good times I had with my close friend.

Let us be reminded that, back in 2001, when UT created their “Master Plan,” the demolition of these houses was not part of it. There is a dilapidated university parking lot directly behind these houses, and UT should look into that for new building projects. There is also the poorly managed, privately owned parking lot at James Agee and Clinch, which is deserted except for game days. It is never used during the regular school week because it costs so much to park there, so it serves no purpose to the university except for taking up space.

Why tear down some of Fort Sanders’ prettiest and most historic houses for some new building when we don’t fully utilize the ones we currently have? This makes no sense to me and I hope fellow UT students will fight this along with me as well as concerned Knoxville residents who care about preserving this city’s culture.

Blake Jeter

Knoxville

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