One of the great things about being a member of Knox Heritage is the opportunity to explore some of the older buildings downtown. Sometimes the buildings are being renovated or re-purposed. In any case, they are always interesting. Recently Knox Heritage held a donor appreciation event at the Ely Building located at 406 Church Avenue, just west of Market Street. If you looked at the music stage last weekend at the International Biscuit Festival you could have likely seen the building if you moved your gaze to the right just slightly.
It sits next to the Cherokee and together with several buildings around the corner they comprise the South Market Historic District. The building was constructed in 1903 as per its 1996 application for historical protection, it is a “two-story brick building with Italianate influences . . . The building has a two-bay facade, with a projecting entrance with marble voussoir and Tennessee pink marble steps on the west bay and windows on the east bay.” Of course, that’s the description that would have spilled off my fingers onto the keyboard, but since it was already written, well, there you go.
Originally the building housed doctor’s offices, but surely had a residence on the top floor. Just inside the front door is a small lobby which could also serve as a living room if someone wanted the entire building as a residence. I think it is around 6,000 square feet, so a little retail on the first floor would probably be a good idea. There is also a basement. The floors and exposed brick walls are beautiful and both floors receive ample light.
The upper floor could certainly be converted to a residence or used as offices. The front of the second floor could easily be (and may have been) bedrooms. There are some nice touches, such as the old style door knobs with the letter “M” and a keyhole for a skeleton key. These doors are original to the house. At least one of the rooms has a fireplace. There are five bathrooms and a galley kitchen.
Major renovations were done within the last ten years, to the tune of around 200,000. I’m thinking the Buddhas are probably negotiable either way. The current price tag on the building is 899,000 which is less than some condos downtown and you would own the whole building! So what do you think? Pieces of history like this won’t be available forever in the heart of downtown Knoxville. If you are interested, you can find the contact details here.