Take an Architectural Tour of Knoxville, Tennessee

This mountain town features an eclectic mix of home styles, from Victorian to modernist.

By: Karin Beurlein

Photo By: Mike ONeill

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Knox Heritage

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Knox Heritage

Photo By: Crystal Martin

Photo By: Photo by Crystal Martin

Photo By: Photo courtesy of Knox Heritage

Photo By: Denise Retallack

Photo By: Photo by Scott Wilkerson

Historic Westwood

Historic Westwood is one of the architectural jewels of Knoxville, located on the town’s main artery, Kingston Pike. Built in 1890 and added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1984, the home is an example of the wildly ornate Richardsonian Romanesque style (even the name is over the top). The wife of Westwood’s builder became Tennessee’s first professional woman painter; you can still see her frescoes on the interior walls. Like many of the homes in this gallery, Westwood was restored to its original glory by local preservation nonprofit Knox Heritage, which now has its offices inside.

Spanish Style

You’ll find good examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture if you peek into Knoxville’s flagship neighborhoods built from the 1920s onward, like Fairmont-Emoriland or North Hills. These homes are noted for their stucco walls, tile roofs, and pretty archways often leading to open courtyards.

The Barber Influence

This Victorian house in the Parkridge neighborhood was designed by famous residential architect George Barber, who lived in Knoxville for most of his career (just down the street from this house, in fact) . Barber made a name for himself by publishing his Victorian house plans in mail-order catalogues, which at the time was still a new approach. The gorgeous exterior detailing was restored by Knox Heritage in 2007—funded in part by an HGTV Restore America grant.

Thoroughly Modern

Knoxville has its share of Midcentury Modern style, too—but it’s less common, and it can be tough to find the home you want on the market. That’s why Scott and Anne Wilkerson decided to build their own. Their house, inspired by the designs of Midcentury developer Joseph Eichler , was designed by architect Robert Nebolon who won the HGTV Fresh Face of Design competition two years later. Some of the design-forward, eco-friendly features include fiber cement siding, cork floors, and high-efficiency windows that let in loads of natural light—plus specialized foam insulation for the roof and walls that made the California-style design efficient in the heat and humidity of the South. To learn more about Midcentury Modern style in Knoxville, visit the Wilkersons’ blog, Knoxville Modern.

The Howard House

This stunning Craftsman home built around 1910 is one of premier examples of that style in Knoxville. Slated for demolition in 2015 to accommodate a new shopping center, the house won a reprieve and was purchased in 2017 by a couple who plan to restore it.

All in the Family

This 1905 Dutch Colonial cottage on Washington Avenue was designed by George Barber but was actually built by his brother, a local architect who also happened to be a well-known fossil collector. The house went almost entirely to ruin and was divided into eight apartments before it was painstakingly restored in 2007 by Knox Heritage, funded in part by a Restore America grant from HGTV.

Queen Anne’s Facelift

This 1888 Queen Anne Victorian is located in the Fort Sanders neighborhood, which is adjacent to the University of Tennessee and where many older homes have been lost or converted to student housing. 1036 Laurel Ave. had a brief second life as a model energy-efficient home for the 1982 World’s Fair, but most of the architectural detail was stripped away in the process. The home was restored to its historic beauty by Knox Heritage in 2009.

Midcentury Marvel

Sequoyah Hills is Knoxville's grandest old neighborhood and one of the most diverse architecturally. You'll find Italianate mansions coexisting with Craftsman cottages, Tudor Revival homes, and Midcentury ranchers like this one. This glass-front home's most interesting feature is a huge koi pond in back that flows right up to the house, making you feel as if land and water are one seamless feature.