CONTACT FOR MORE INFORMATION
2101 Spence Place
Knoxville, TN 37920
Date: Quarterly Meetings
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About Our Neighborhood
(Excerpted from the National Register of Historic Places Registration Form for Island Home Park written by Ann Bennett of the Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission)
The Island Home Park neighborhood was named for the model farm and second home of Perez Dickinson, a Massachusetts-born merchant, banker and educator prominent in Knoxville and Knox County, who owned the land from 1875 to approximately 1899. Mr. Dickinson, who maintained a large, elegant home in downtown Knoxville as his primary residence, used his "Island Home" as a summer cottage, a guest residence, and an agricultural and horticultural center. Mr. Dickinson's house, although extensively modified from its original Italianate design, still exists on the grounds of the Tennessee School for the Deaf located at the eastern boundary of the subdivision. The Island Home Park Historic District lies on land that formed the front approach to the grounds, and Island Home Boulevard follows the path established by the original drive to Mr. Dickinson's home.
Mr. Dickinson is reported to have been very gracious in sharing Island Home with the community. He purchased the land from Colonel Thomas L. Spence (for whom Spence Place, a street in the subdivision, is named) in 1869. He also purchased an adjacent island, Williams Island, which now houses Island Home Airport, and was owned by John C. J. Williams. Mr. Dickinson entertained local Knoxvillians, and visiting dignitaries. He encouraged various civic groups and to hold meetings at Island Home, and picnics by Sunday Schools, civic organizations, and the Dickinson Rifles or Dickinson Light Guard, a militia formed by Mr. Dickinson, were common at Island Home. Citizens of Knoxville were accustomed to sharing the hospitality Mr. Dickinson extended; this affection extended to the new Island Home Park Subdivision.
The citizens of Knoxville became even more interested in Island Home after the Gay Street Bridge was constructed in 1898. Before the bridge was complete, a trolley company had been granted an easement to install tracks across the Gay Street Bridge. Prior to installation of the trolley, South Knoxville had always been fairly isolated from the developing city on the north side of the Tennessee River.
In 1899, the Island Home Park Company acquired the property located outside the gardens of Perez Dickinson's house. The gateposts were constructed, and Island Home Boulevard and Spence Place were paved. The exact date of development of the residential subdivision is not known. However, houses were apparently not constructed for the first few years of ownership by Island Home Park, until around 1910. It is known that the land was used as a public gathering place, and for picnics, for a number of years before residential development grew up on Spence Place, Maplewood, Fisher Place and Island Home Boulevard.
The Island Home Park Company coordinated its activities with the streetcar line construction to create a "streetcar suburb." Early residents of Island Home Park were middle class and professional people associated with the prosperous warehousing and industrial economy of early twentieth century Knoxville. Principally single family dwellings, the houses are located on large lots, with mature landscaping and sidewalks. Island Home Boulevard itself is divided by a median strip which once contained the streetcar tracks for the trolley that served the subdivision. The median is now a grassy strip with intermittent mature landscaping and trees. However, rounded curb cuts that allowed the streetcars to cross intersecting streets are still visible in the roadway.
Island Home Park contains some of the best examples of Bungalow and Craftsman architecture in Knoxville, some of which are influenced by Tudor Revival, Neoclassical or Colonial Revival architectural details. The Bungalow styles are exemplified in homes at 2221 Island Home Boulevard and 2207 Island Home Boulevard, while 2101 Spence Place and 2135 Island Home Boulevard are good examples of Bungalows with Tudor Revival Influence. Craftsman styling is noteworthy on the house at 2125 Island Home Boulevard. Of particular interest is the use of cobblestone detailing for foundations, balustrades and porch posts and columns; this material is not found elsewhere in Knoxville. 2030 Spence Place, a house of the Bungalow style which uses cobblestone extensively for balustrades, basement, porch columns and chimneys, is a particularly good example of the use of this material.
Most of the secondary structures in the district are garages, built after the use of the automobile was more prevalent. One servants' quarters remains at 2200 Island Home Boulevard, and is an unusual, well-detailed Tudor Revival design blending with the primary structure on the lot.