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Historic home demolished by owner

4:58 PM, Oct 11, 2012   |    comments
  • Huffaker-Gose House, by Knox Heritage, June 2011
  • Site of the Huffaker-Gose House, by Knox Heritage, October 2012
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Preservationists says an historic Knox County home was demolished by its owner.

Knox Heritage says the Huffaker-Gose House, located at 7311 Huffaker Ferry Road in southeast Knox County, was destroyed sometime last week by its current owner, Dr. William M. Hovis.

The Huffaker-Gose House was listed on Knox Heritage's Fragile Fifteen and was architecturally, historically, and they say it was culturally significant to the entire East Tennessee region.

Knox Heritage says the original two-story, heavy timber frame structure was built around 1830 in the Georgian style.  It was later updated with architecturally significant Victorian vernacular additions.

Historians say Catherine Huffaker and her sons lived in the house and ran the nearby ferry connecting Seven Islands to the Frazier Bend communities. Her descendants continued to live in the house and operate the ferry for over 100 years, until 1935, when the parents of Lewis Gose bought the house.

Gose took over the ferry operation in 1937. The Huffaker Ferry was sunk during the filming of the movie "All the Way Home" in 1964. The ferry landing remains, according to Knox Heritage, providing insight into commerce and life along the French Broad River. Dr. Hovis has owned the property since the mid 1990s.

Knox Heritage says state law should have kept the house from being demolished, since it was built before 1865, could have been repaired at a reasonable cost, and had historical significance.

Knox Heritage saved the house once before.  In June 2011, the Seymour Volunteer Fire Department was planning to burn the house for firefighter training, until the preservationist group stepped in.  The group also says they had a person who was interested in buying and preserving the house.

The Huffaker-Gose house was one of very few frame houses built in this period that was still standing in Knox County, according to Knox Heritage.  They also believe that a man named Edward Huffaker (1856-1937) was born in or lived in this house.  He was an early aviation pioneer, and wrote an essay called "On Soaring Flight" that the Wright Brothers studied. Historians say Huffaker even worked with the Wrights in 1901, just two years before their monumental flight in Kitty Hawk, NC.

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