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602 S. Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902
Thanks for the astutely written piece on Fort Sanders in your October 11th edition. [“Local Color: Fort Sanders” by Shawn Poynter, intro by Jack Neely] The neighborhood does indeed have the noted benefits of variety, diversity, and convenience. It is also greater Knoxville’s most historic and architecturally significant neighborhood.
But the latter attributes are going, going, gone. I’m not a hard-nosed preservationist; things change and they always will. But the Fort has been more or less a slum for some while, and this is a shame. The overflow of students from UTK has provided a compelling motive for slumlords to take over once-landmark Queen Anne houses and turn them into minimally maintained pest-ridden middens for students, many with a mature approach to life far in their futures. This development pressure has led to new housing, utterly unexceptional, taking the place of more and more of the Fort’s neighborhood fabric. It’s too bad that a major regional hospital didn’t see the wisdom decades ago of relocating somewhere less fragile and more accommodating to expansion. And while it’s nice that private dollars have crafted Agee Park, it’s shameful that his home is gone.
What’s done is done. All we can do is refer to the plan for Fort Sanders—remember that?—and try to keep its implementation in mind.
Kenneth M. Moffett