1888 – Knoxville, TN (George F. Barber) – $314,900

For Sale
Added to OHD on 2/25/19   -   Last OHD Update: 5/21/19   -   29 Comments
1635 Washington Ave, Knoxville, TN 37917

Map: Street

  • $314,900
  • 3 Bed
  • 3 Bath
  • 2908 Sq Ft
Former residence of George F. Barber, local architect of national notoriety for mail-order house plans, is available. The home is reflective of plan #60 in the second Cottage Souvenir catalog. Buyers will appreciate vintage details, especially of spacious central staircase and landing. Additional square footage is finished in the attic of this large home. Kitchens and bathrooms are renovation ready.George F. Barber was a local architect of national notoriety for early mail order house plans. Homes were built from his plans around the country. A variety of homes built from his plans are featured in this neighborhood that he, as part of Edgewood Land Improvement Company, developed around the turn of the twentieth century.
Contact Information
Jennifer Montgomery, Trotta Montgomery Real Estate
(865) 213-2000
Links, Photos & Additional Info
Status, price and other details may not be current and must be independently verified.
OHD does not represent this home.

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29 Comments on 1888 – Knoxville, TN (George F. Barber) – $314,900

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  1. AvatarJennifer says: 1 comments

    I’m so sad that the turret is gone! 🙁

    36
  2. RossRoss says: 2406 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS

    As I have said previously, I really hate it when aliens kidnap turrets.

    And roof cresting.

    34
  3. AvatarTNoldhouselover says: 7 comments

    Looks like the aliens kidnapped the chimneys as well.

    17
  4. AvatarBethany otto says: 2661 comments
    OHD Supporter

    Escondido, CA

    It seems particularly heinous for the good stuff to be missing not just from a Barber house but from HIS personal residence, don’t you think?

    24
  5. RossRoss says: 2406 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1894 QueenAnneFreeClassic
    Emporia, KS

    A period-correct color scheme would do wonders for the house:

    https://goo.gl/maps/59QaiVqXFKk

    https://goo.gl/maps/GJkHLu6Pjyk

    https://goo.gl/maps/WLqmi3r6Ttp

    7
  6. John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4715 comments
    OHD Supporter

    1889 Eastlake Cottage
    Fort Worth, TX

    As I understand, George Barber actually lived in four different homes during his career, with three in Knoxville. His first home (1886) was in DeKalb, IL and can best be described as an eclectic Italianate. I think Barber’s favorite was the 1895 “Rosemont” which sadly was demolished. A Barber family member posted a couple of photos of the lost Rosemont home on FB recently with George riding on a bicycle in front. This house, according to a Knoxville Barber “tours” booklet, was Barber’s first Knoxville house said to date back to 1889: http://knoxheritage.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/KH-George-Barber-Homes-Tour_web.pdf Barber’s last residence where he and his wife passed away in 1915, (few would recognize as being designed by Barber) is at 1703 E. Glenwood, and it came within a hair’s breadth of being demolished. Fortunately, it is currently under restoration. Streetview: https://goo.gl/maps/7sbd1zH4XdE2

    As for this 1889 house, it has suffered some indignities over the decades including the loss of its prominent corner turret. There’s an almost identical house in Brookville, Ohio called the Samuel Spitler house. (Wikipedia photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Samuel_Spitler_House.jpg ) It still features its corner turret. Since I honor the architectural legacy of George Barber with the same reverence that many have for F.L. Wright, I sincerely hope that the next owner(s) of this landmark home does an immaculate restoration that will take it back to the exact appearance it had in 1889. I would also have no objection for it becoming a museum house honoring the life and architectural legacy of George Franklin Barber. There are enough architectural clues remaining that with some architectural forensic detective work, a reasonable facsimile of the original could be recreated. I would even be willing to go to Knoxville to exactly reconstruct the original turret if need be. It seems that finally with the publication of Architectural Ragtime (by the late Dr. Michael Alcorn and Barber authority Chistopher DiMattei) George F. Barber is finally getting the attention and respect that he deserves. Without the thousands of houses his firm designed between 1888 and 1908 American domestic architecture would be far poorer. In small towns especially, a Barber designed home is often the fanciest, most prominent residence in town. If I had lottery winner type funds, I’d buy this house in a second and wouldn’t rest until it looked exactly as it did during Barber’s time there. I’ll also speculate that someone might do just that with this rare opportunity to acquire this home. It would be horrific beyond belief for some clueless oaf to go in and modernize the interior beyond recognition. I hope the house sells with some protective covenants that would prohibit such changes. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for this one…

    17
    • JpJp says: 40 comments

      “Clueless oaf” really had me laughing. From the area I come from, there’s no appreciation for older architecture, so I can’t say i would be surprised if the Barber home suffers such a fate, but I would be devastated.

      2
    • SharonSharon says: 408 comments
      OHD Supporter

      Sedalia, MO

      John, I know many here would agree with your hopes for this house and for honoring Barber’s legacy. You are so correct. I’ve learned much about Barber on OHD and thank you and Kelly and so many other experts for sharing your knowledge and your love of these historic treasures.

      4
    • Christopher DiMatteiChristopher DiMattei says: 265 comments

      John, I have echoed your sentiments in other online posts, which I have linked below. In my mind, this is “The” opportunity for the city of Knoxville to step up and create something special here.

      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10214431537285334&set=gm.2294755833868022&type=3&theater&ifg=1

      1
      • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4715 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1889 Eastlake Cottage
        Fort Worth, TX

        Chris,
        You and I agree completely about this unique opportunity to acquire a George Barber designed residence that reflects his early and arguably most creative period of design. The fact that Barber himself and his family called this place home only enhances its historical value. I was surprised to not see at least some surviving interior fretwork as Barber was very fond of this decorative art-form which was frequently displayed in his plan book photos.

        As previously mentioned, I think if the house were researched thoroughly, most of the now missing features could be recreated. I’m fairly certain all of the newel posts on the staircase once featured fancy finials with perhaps an ornamental newel post lamp (was the house equipped with gas lines originally?) on the lowest main newel post. Evidence of wallpapers may still exist in some places. As for moving archival George Barber materials into this house, first and foremost it would need an automatic fire suppression system as the entire house is of wood/frame construction.

        Knoxville gradually appears to be warming up towards the legacy of its most famous architect who for decades existed largely in obscurity. I would imagine that the McClung Collection of George Barber materials in the Knoxville Public Library are among the most frequently visited pages from their online resources. Having the restored original Barber family home would create a centerpiece for his architectural legacy in Knoxville. If done right, perhaps the admissions would pay for the home’s upkeep and any remainder could be used to promote ongoing research and studies at the university level concerning Barber and his competitors in the mail order plan business during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

        I will refrain however, from suggesting employing docents dressed in Victorian garb with someone resembling “George” providing a visitors’ tour narrative. That might be a little on the hokey side. Perhaps more tasteful would be a carriage house showing the methods of production for the distinctive mail order house parts that Barber recommended. Apparently, many of his clients did such a brisk business with the giant Foster-Munger millworks firm in Chicago that they considered George Barber almost their in-house architect.

        Lots of possibilities, but above all this house must not be altered to the point where it loses its historical value. Please share the good news should Knoxville decide to step up and add this valuable historical asset to the City. Perhaps someone with connections to the City government could find someone in the council or leadership to champion this worthy cause.

        • Christopher R DiMatteiChristopher R DiMattei says: 265 comments

          The city of Knoxville doesn’t seem to appreciate the wealth of historical treasures within the city limits. Several people I know, fighting on the front lines of the historic preservation battle, continuously get beat up in their attempts to protect historic structures. It seems to me that the only way this home gets the restoration and preservation treatment it so deserves, is if the people of the community take ownership of it and get it done themselves. If only some of the 1% cared about this issue, the end to the story might be different. If I were local, I would do more than offer up suggestions, and I stand by my offer to provide free architectural services to any future owner of this home, willing to restore it to its original design. I remain hopeful that something special will happen to this gem.

          2
  7. AvatarWesley Peters says: 11 comments

    I have a Facebook group that is dedicate to sharing the work of George F. Barber. It is called “George F. Barber Enthusiasts” If anyone is interested they can go ahead and join. It is a great resource for anyone interested in Barber. I myself found over 160 standing Barber houses in my home state of Iowa.

    7
    • AvatarGreg Bailey says: 1 comments

      I remember being in this house as a small child. It was sadly in need of repairs then but the architecture was beautiful. The stair case was gorgeous. I believe my grandmother told me the turret was struck by lightning ???? My great-grandmother owned Rosemont and ran it as a boarding house until she had to be moved into a nursing home. I grew up in beautiful Rosemont until the age of 11.

      2
      • Christopher DiMatteiChristopher DiMattei says: 265 comments

        Greg, would you happen to have any old photos of Rosemont? If so, I would love to obtain scans for my Barber house documentation. Thanks.

        1
        • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4715 comments
          OHD Supporter

          1889 Eastlake Cottage
          Fort Worth, TX

          As I recall, Greg or another Barber descendant did post some photos on Wesley’s FB page. One showed Geo. Barber riding on a bicycle next to the house and the other showed Mr. Barber standing on the front porch of Rosemont with his daughter (?) and some American flag bunting. The entry, which was dimly visible, had an extraordinary leaded/stained glass door and sidelight. An issue of American Homes magazine showed an interior view of Rosemont displaying ornate fretwork.

          Slightly off topic..an acquaintance sent me a photo link to a fine Barber designed house in Ottawa, IL (the Palmer House) taken in 1937 from the Shorpy images website: https://www.shorpy.com/node/14226?size=_original#caption Luckily, the house still stands but is a little worse for wear. Sorry to digress, but I never tire of discussions pertaining to George F. Barber and his legacy. I’ll try to refrain from making more posts that can be better handled in private correspondence.

          1
          • Christopher DiMatteiChristopher DiMattei says: 265 comments

            John, I am aware of the photos you described, of Rosemont. But I am always on the hunt for additional photos, of any Barber designed home or building. Just hoping Greg has some photos of his own, to add to the collection.

            1
      • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4715 comments
        OHD Supporter

        1889 Eastlake Cottage
        Fort Worth, TX

        So sad that Rosemont was lost. Wasn’t it George’s favorite home in Knoxville?

    • John ShifletJohn Shiflet says: 4715 comments
      OHD Supporter

      1889 Eastlake Cottage
      Fort Worth, TX

      Thanks for posting, Wesley. I can affirm that your FB group is very informative for enthusiasts of George F. Barber & Co. I feel privileged to be a member of your group.

    • AvatarJulie Aarsvold says: 153 comments

      Thanks Wesley, I just joined your group, thanks for the invitation. I love these Barber houses, I just never knew who designed them before I joined OHD.

  8. AvatarLeanne says: 43 comments

    Who takes turrets off Barber houses?! Philistines!

    6
  9. AvatarDavid Sweet says: 233 comments

    While I,too, greatly lament the loss of a tower in any home, I would say that whoever owned this house recently got a good start on the renovation. Lots of possibilities here, but maybe the last owners ran out of time, money, or both. Sad but it happens all the time.
    I used to give talks about this for our local historic commission to prospective buyers of historic properties. There are some really harsh realities in restoration. On the bright side; maybe the new owners will have deep enough pockets to rebuild the tower!

  10. AvatarTish Ptak says: 4 comments

    On picture #3 there is a child in the balcony by the turret.

    1
    • Christopher DiMatteiChristopher DiMattei says: 265 comments

      Most likely, the child is Charles Irving Barber, George’s oldest son, who would have been a toddler at the time this photo was taken.

  11. AvatarRoger Edington says: 48 comments

    I think there should be a Go Fund Me page for buying and renovating this house to the original standards. It should be made into a museum. I would chip-in to save this house from further damage. Perhaps the Facebood group could get things started.

    1
    • Christopher DiMatteiChristopher DiMattei says: 265 comments

      Roger, an interesting idea using Go-Fund-Me, but I would like to see financial protections in place to guarantee that all monies contributed to the project, are spent entirely on the project. Perhaps a non-profit business entity (403c) could be created for the purpose of procuring and restoring the home?

      1
  12. AvatarKristi E says: 46 comments

    I lived in another Barber House about half a block from this one for more than ten years. Although the neighborhood has picked up since I left ten years ago, it is still not a fashionable area and it is on the side of town that many Knoxvillians think is scary. People who move into Parkridge do it because they love the architecture. This is a huge pricetag for the neighborhood, so I would be super surprised if anyone would spend a lot of money to mess up the interior. Knoxville does have a very passionate preservation society although they often have to fight the city to get the right thing done. The listing realtor lives in the neighborhood and is very knowledgeable about Barber, so I would be surprised if this house isn’t bought by someone who is already involved in preservation efforts in Knoxville.

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