I would like to say a word of thanks to the Fourth and Gil Neighborhood Association who presented their 32nd Tour of Homes and Gardens last Saturday. The tour was wonderful as always but I am impressed by the longevity of the event and the work it takes to get it up and running year after year as well as the willingness to open houses and this year gardens to the public .
As always, a special thanks to everyone who helped put this wonderful tour booklet together. I especially appreciate the work Arin Streeter puts into compiling the history of the neighborhood and the houses. Thank you to the home and garden owners whose properties we visited. I’ve done my best to do your homes justice in the photos, but crowds sometimes prevented me from taking the best photos of some of the gorgeous spaces.
We were joined by friends from Florida and enjoyed showing them the beautiful neighborhood. We made it through most of the houses before the heat convinced most of us it was time to call it a day. In my party’s defense, I had them at sweaty bike races on Friday nights, at a steamy market square Saturday morning, and I threatened them with more sweaty fun on Sunday. Thanks to Gordon for spotting a group that needed a quick ride to our air conditioned vehicle and to Gina for rescuing us quickly in the KISS Caboose.
The first stop for us was the Central United Methodist Church pictured above. Upon completion in 1927, the nave was Knoxville’s largest auditorium, with a seating capacity of 1,600. The massive pipe organ, purchased by the Riviera Theater in 1935, is a prominent feature of the space. The building was listed on the National Register of Historic Places seventeen years ago.
The Queen Anne House at 613 Luttrell Street was built in 1887 by Thomas Flenniken as a tenement. Even in 1905, when it was purchased as a single family home, less than half of Tennessee households owned their homes. Notably, the mother of the family lived in the home continuously from the time of the $2,000 purchase until Mary L. Grissom’s death in 1962.
It continues to have long-term owners, with James and Maggie Parks owning the home from 1963 to 1996. The current owners are finishing their first decade in the house.
The striking features of the interior of the house include the beautiful tiled fireplaces, including two at the front of the house that were almost identical. The built-in closets on the top floor surrounding a small fireplace created a cozy space.
The art always caught my attention. Brian Pittman and Amos Oakes’ series is beautiful, although I’m biased: I’ve owned three from the same series. The De La Garza painting in the front room and the Yee Haw Hank Williams poster immediately let me know we were on offer.
Next we dived into a series of gardens, all of which were beautiful and most of which were hidden behind houses or walls for privacy. It was easy to imagine sitting outside when the weather was nice and enjoying a cool drink.
The garden at 815 Luttrell started at the front and flowed down a path to the rear. These include raised beds, garden art by Gerry Moll and “containers for growing everything from herbs to hops”. Across the street at 814 Luttrell, also pictured above, the owners took “a patch of grass” and turned it into a place for family, friends, and children to enjoy. With fruits, veggies, a campfire, and a hammock, what else would you need?
From Luttrell, a short walk down an alleyway led to the delightful little garden at 515 Lovenia. It’s a small space but another great place to relax. It’s full of little surprises that you can’t see from the street.
We end with another house I love where Urban Woman and I visited its owner and our friend Nina. 610 Caswell was built in 1905 and, after a series of tenants, was purchased in 1922 by Alphonso and Carri Reichart Kromer, immigrants from Germany, for $4,400. The house remained occupied by the owners until 1969 when it was sold and soon converted back into a rental home. After a long decline and attempts to restore the home, it was sold in foreclosure. The current owner bought the house in 2019 and brought it back to life.
There are far too many details to mention, but the artwork is impressive throughout (one piece depicts a love of my long life that longtime readers will easily recognize). It begins with the beautiful banister on the stairwell, designed by Derrick White of Bird on the Wire Studios.
Every little nook in the house has been filled with built-in shelving, artwork, or a couch and chairs for a cozy spot. The beautiful kitchen leads to a large covered lanai with gauze curtains and perfect furniture for sharing wine and cheese with friends. While other houses are nearby, it feels private and quiet. A small second floor balcony was added which offers a view of the Great Smoky Mountains in the distance.
I stop there for this rate. We will look at more houses and gardens tomorrow in a second part.