KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Fight to save a 100-year-old home in East Knoxville is underway.

“2651 East Magnolia is what is often referred to as the Sterchi-Audigier home. It is a home that was built about 100 years ago for one of the original Sterchi brothers who was very well known here in Knoxville,” said Christine Cloninger, the executive director of Knox Heritage, which works to preserve historic places in Knoxville.

“We recently became aware of the impending demolition of this site which led us to do a little bit of research as to why and what was happening here,” she added.

Last year, the vacant building was damaged by a fire. A few months ago, the current owner of the home filed a demolition permit with the City of Knoxville.

According to State Rep. Sam McKenzie, the Tennessee Department of Correction has looked into using the property as a parole office.

“I’m really disappointed that we didn’t have any public input in terms of what should be sited here or where that type of facility should go,” McKenzie said.

“Call the Department of Correction,” he continued. “I’ve been in touch with the Office of General Services. They understand this might not be the best, proper use to use this land, and at the end of the day with a low bid. I really think there are some mitigating circumstances that really should have been considered before you decide to site a place like that.”

Cloninger said the home is eligible for listing on the National Historic Registry which would make federal historic tax credits available to preserve the space.

“We just want to work with the developer to find a solution to keep this site here in this neighborhood,” she said. 

TDOC released a statement to WATE:

This is a piece of property the State of TN procured for a lease in September 2021 on behalf of the Tennessee Department of Correction. The State selected the proposal based on costs as the TCA requires of the DGS. Also, when the State selected the site, it was for the existing space, which included the renovated historic structure. When the fire occurred, the landlord informed the State that he could build the TDOC offices to TDOC’s specifications for lease by the State. This procurement was advertised publicly over two years ago. However, the lease has yet to commence.

A spokesperson with TDOC said they are reviewing the lease location and other options.

WATE contacted the property owner for comment and has not received a response at this time.

Historic stories in Knoxville

The permit filed back in June was subject to a 60-day demolition delay, but that expires on Aug. 18. Knox Heritage wants people to reach out to their local representatives to voice their concerns and interest in preserving this historic site.