KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — An Old North Knoxville Home is getting some much needed attention through a City of Knoxville program.
Less than a half a mile from WATE’s studios, stands the house at 523 East Oklahoma Avenue. Built in 1889, the two and a half story home sits at the corner of the five point intersection of East Oklahoma, Folsom, and West Glenwood, and it has an intriguing past. Unlike many other homes in the area, however, the home appears to have been vacant for quite some time.
The City of Knoxville has a Homemakers Program, which allows individuals, non-profit organizations and businesses to purchase vacant lots or lots with substandard structures acquired by the city. The city says in nearly all cases, the purchaser is required to construct a new dwelling on the property or rehabilitate the structure.
The Knoxville City Council passed a resolution in August 2021 to acquire the home, by condemnation if necessary, based on the recommendation of the Abandoned, Blighted, and Vacant Properties Committee. Almost a year later, on July 1, 2022, an order was filed in the Knox County Circuit Court awarding the house to the City of Knoxville. That document also stated that the previous owner of the home owed over $750 in property taxes to the City of Knoxville and Knox County.
Investors Sean Bolen and Alison Hardy purchased 523 East Oklahoma Avenue through the program with goals to fix it up. The two friends live in Knox County, and Bolen has experience restoring homes. According to the Homemakers Program, they have a year from the delivery of the deed to rehabilitate the house.
523 E. Oklahoma last sold in 1978 for $20,000 according to documents form the Property Assessor’s Office, but the August 2021 City Council meeting minutes estimated the home to be worth $144,000 in it’s blighted condition.
The home currently does not have power. Bolen explained that because the house is condemned, it will need new electricity and plumbing in addition to restoration and fixing water damage. Still, Bolen and Hardy are hopeful to restore many of the original or antique features in the home, like the stained glass windows, wooden doorknobs, and the main staircase.
Follow along with WATE as we follow the history and restoration of the old house at Oklahoma Avenue. Bolen and Hardy also share updates on the home through the Facebook page 523 E Oklahoma and on Instagram.
To learn more about the Homemakers Program and the available lots through the program, visit the City of Knoxville’s website.