2651 E. Magnolia Avenue Endangered by Demolition
Historic East Knoxville Home to be Replaced by Parole Office
On June 20, 2023, a demolition permit application was filed with the City of Knoxville Plans Review & Inspections Division for the demolition of the historic and National Register eligible structure at 2651 E. Magnolia Avenue, originally the home of W.H. Sterchi. Due to its significant history, the permit is subject to a sixty (60) day demolition delay which will expire on August 18, 2023. The structure, built ca. 1925, was highlighted in Knoxville-Knox County Planning’s 2009 Magnolia Avenue Corridor Plan as a historic resource and “a fine example of the Spanish Eclectic Style, nationally popularized between 1920 and 1940 but rare in Knoxville.”
Knox Heritage has communicated with the current property owner/developer and has learned that the intended use for the site is to build a one-story high-security parole office which will be leased to the State of Tennessee’s Department of Corrections, replacing their current location at 1426 Elm Street. The site on Magnolia Avenue was selected after the State conducted a request for proposals, and the original plan included the preservation and reuse of the structure. Since then, 2651 E. Magnolia Avenue has sat vacant and vulnerable and suffered a fire in fall 2022. Though Knox Heritage has not been able to conduct a site visit, the damage does not appear to be catastrophic from the exterior. The property is also eligible for federal historic tax credits, a program that incentivizes adaptive reuse of underutilized historic buildings.
As Knoxville continues to grow, it is of vital importance that we protect the architectural and cultural assets that make up our city’s historic fabric. The proposed demolition of this unique and culturally rich structure would be a loss to the Magnolia Avenue Corridor and the City of Knoxville. Knox Heritage has spoken to local and state officials and has been conducting outreach to community representatives in both the Chilhowee Park and Parkridge neighborhoods. Time is of the essence, and we stand committed to collaborating with the property owner, civic leaders, and our neighbors to advocate for the preservation of 2651 E. Magnolia Avenue.
To join us in these efforts, please contact City and State representatives to share your concerns about the demolition and proposed project.
City of Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon
(865) 215-2040 or email@example.com
Knoxville City Councilwoman Gwen McKenzie
(865) 524-1458 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Knox County Commissioner Dasha Lundy
(865) 315-0237 or email@example.com
State Representative Sam McKenzie
(615) 741-0768 or firstname.lastname@example.org
State Senator Richard Briggs
(615) 741-1766 or email@example.com
State Senator Becky Massey
(615) 741-1648 or firstname.lastname@example.org
State of Tennessee Department of General Services
(615) 741-9263 or email@example.com
State of Tennessee leasing agent Susan Hicks
About the Sterchi-Audigier Residence
(Research provided by the Knoxville History Project’s Jack Neely)
2651 E. Magnolia Avenue’s first residents were William H. (W.H.) and Nina Sterchi. W.H. was one of the original Sterchi Brothers, famous for their major furniture chain. Upon W.H.’s death in 1929, his funeral was held at the home; one of the pallbearers was Coca-Cola magnate J. Patrick Roddy. W.H.’s widow, Nina, lived there as head of the household until the mid-1930s. In 1936, the home was sold to Louis B. Audigier, a Knoxville native who spent time in Italy as the photographic representative of the New York Times in Rome. Audigier and his first wife, Eleanor Deane Audigier, are known for the vast and eclectic collection of antique furniture, art, and other artifacts that they donated to the University of Tennessee.
About Knox Heritage
The Knox Heritage mission is to protect Knoxville’s unique character for future generations by preserving, restoring, and transforming historically significant structures and places. Established in 1974 as a nonprofit historic preservation organization, Knox Heritage is chartered by the state of Tennessee and governed by a board of directors. More information can be found at knoxheritage.org