Thursday, July 13th, 2006
Colonial Village Neighborhood Association

Before I get to the meat of the matter - impending, unwanted development in my neighborhood - I want you to get to know it, to unerstand what it means to the people who live here, many multi-generational. I moved back to Knoxville in April after having been away for five years working as a librarian and researcher in San Francisco. I had kept my home, while I was away, renting it out to a succession of hippees, single moms, and witnesses for Jehovah. I live in South Knoxville in the hallowed neighborhood of Colonial Village, which runs along Chapman Hwy between Firehouse 13 to the North and Ellis Road to the south and to Neubert Springs Road and Martin Mill Pike to the West.

The sign at Butterfly Lake (South Knoxville's version of the duckpond that was created by a series of sink holes of which we seem to have plenty of - more on that later) on Colonial Drive says something like "Colonial Village est. 1940." I bought my house in 1995. It was built sometime in the 1940s and "updated" in the '70s. I was told when I bought it, by one of my neighbors, that the house was once featured in Better Homes and Gardens Magazine around 1950 or so. Something having to do with the architect being known for his lavish picture windows. I never researched this so I don't know if its true. But I'm glad for the window. It is substantial and I wouldn't argue with lavish. If you are sitting on our futon in the livingroom facing out the window, all you can see are the branches and leaves of two large, old oaks and a maple and you get the magical sensation that you are perched in a treehouse. That's what i call it, my house, the treehouse.

The house to the right of me could not be anymore different in architecture and style than that to the left of me that is contradistinct from the house across the street. It is fair to say that no two houses on the street are kindred. And mine is unlike any other. This disharmony is repeated over and again throughout Colonial Village and one begins to wonder if each house was welcomely designed and built in a vaccum? There are legion trees and countless stands of woods. It is the rare street where several houses or even one whole side doesn't butt up against woods. This makes it the ultimate playground for a kid. Its your father's neighborhood, and his, and his before. And its not a bad place either for red tail hawks, great barred owls, myriad song birds, racoons, squirrels, rabbits, native plants and a whole host of flora and fauna to find refuge. You're as likely to find homes where sections of the yard have been let to go wild as you are to see nicely manicured lawns. South Knoxville is green. Greener than comparable areas in the West and North. The aesthetic here is more wild, less groomed, a little rougher and we like it that way. Heck, I'd take 10 used car lots, a handful of pawn shops and 3 tacquerias over a "Super Target" anyday.

You can imagine, then, the dismay and repressed roar manifest in the room at the Colonial Village Neighborhood Association when Jordon M. Mollenhour (native son and pipsqueak of Colonial Village, so shouldn't he know better?) took to the podium and began to not really tell us much of anything about the 70 single-family, mixed detached and condo-style development of which he is in the planning stages that would raze 14 acres of our precious, precious woods, not on the edge, but smack in the damn middle of our old, architecturally diverse, and green, green neighborhood.

Sorry for the cliffhanger, but i must collect my thoughts and words for a continuation. Also, want to snap some photos of the neighborhood. There is plenty more to come.


R. Neal's picture

Great post! Hadn't heard

Great post! Hadn't heard anything about this development. Looking forward to more info.

(The Mrs., coincidentally also named Michele, grew up over there, and I spent many a summer afternoon fishing in Butterfly Pond, but that was before I knew the Mrs.)

RedDog's picture

Hey R Neal - regarding

Hey R Neal - regarding fishing in Butterfly Lake. I tried fishing there several times but some CRAZY guy kept running me off claiming it was private property that belonged to his mother - I never believed him but gave it up due to this guy's instability


and speaking of crazy, I swear i saw I beaver there one afternoon. 

Anonymous's picture

Butterfly Lake is private

Butterfly Lake is private property.


Their house faces Colonial. Use the KGIS before you slander someone by questioning their mental faculties. I believe Lucille is the mother. Looks like folks want to believe that whatever attractive parts of our community they encounter MUST be public. Not always so.

RedDog's picture

where to start

where to start -

Dear Anonymous - to be anonymous you sure are specific about someone else's name. I don't know what KGIS is but .... I standby my comments about the guy running me off. You may be correct about ownership but the nature of the confrontation is accurate - someone was unstable - maybe it was me???? 

R Neal - I won't give you my address (maybe Anonymous will) but put your rehab clinic any where in West Vestal and I'll be a good neighbor. 

Oh infostat - you sound like a snob oh superior one.  Quit breathing down your nose and recognize that there are other people in the world trying to get a slice of the pie. Image - young couple coming up and they find their home in Colonial Village. It was sweet for me when I did - are you wanting to deny it for anyone except for the old farts who already live there? Are you one of the old farts?

[b][i]INFOSTAT - No, stay away; FREEDOM - but why can't I buy a home close to town? INFOSTAT - Because I don't want anyone infrigeing on MY preciosus property. FREEDOM - But I'm a nice guy and will be a good neighbor. I'm just trying to have what YOU have. INFOSTAT - too late. I got it and you lose....[/b][/i]

Opinari's picture


Which 14 acres are they looking to supplant? Being a native South Knoxvillian myself, I can picture several areas in Colonial Village that would be targeted by developers (if those areas haven't been developed already).

infostat's picture

Which 14 acres

Its the 5900 block of Magazine, just west, past the South Knoxville Church of God. Another access point is a road called Silla which intersects Sarvis (which is just off Stone). I'm talking right in the heart of the neighborhood.

bizgrrl's picture

Sounds like Larry Clark was

Sounds like Larry Clark was talking about something completely different. Right in the heart of the neighborhood?!?!? Wow! I certainly hope the local residents can have some influence on this project, whether to stop it or to have great input on the the design.

R. Neal's picture

I bet Clark ws talking about

I bet Clark ws talking about that big dig underway further out Chapman Highway past John Sevier. Looks like a spot for a Lowes, and I do seem to recall a skating rink there.

H4's picture

Chapman/John Sevier is where

Chapman/John Sevier is where the skate rink was. The sign, a large roller skate is still there, but for for how much longer? That is indeed a Lowes/strip mall going in there. Already the intersection is a freakin' mess.

bizgrrl's picture

In the KnoxNews podcast

In the KnoxNews podcast with Larry Clark, Knox County Commissioner, it sounded like the area is where the old skating rink was and Lowes will be the anchor tenant. He also mentioned Tax increment financing. I had a little trouble hearing, but that is what it sounded like.

infostat's picture

Old skating

I'm not sure where the old skating rink was, but I'm pretty sure it was never in the heart of Colonial Village! I think you are referring to the development further out Chapman Hwy. at the intersection of John Sevier.

Tess's picture

Sorry for your loss

I'm sorry about that, but if a developer wants to do it, I can assure you that County Commission will be more than pleased to allow it to happen.


RedDog's picture

I lived in Colonial Village

I lived in Colonial Village for a number of years. In fact my first home (i.e., as a mortgage holder) was in Colonial Village. A small but beautiful cedar sided home lush with native plants.

But I wonder, it sounds as if you are opposed to Mr. Mollenhour's proposal.  So are you anti personal property rights and personal freedom. I suppose you feel you idea of architecturally diverse homes is superior to that of Mr. Mollenhour?


Hey, if you hold out long enough, maybe you will get a trailer park instead - wish for double-wides... 


Disclaimer - I have never met or know of Mr. Mollenhour other than as it relates to this issue. I have close friends who live on Magazine, attended the public meeting called by Mr. Mollenhour, do not know Mr. Mollenhour, but still recognize 1) as a landowner he has rights and 2) development will occur whether it is him or someone else, and 3) isn't building close in to the city on property such as Magazine counter to the so-called / dreaded urban sprawl most progressives denounce? (ok, #3 was only my thought, that wasn't a part of our discussion over the weekend)


I suggest you find a way to work with him to guide the development into something you can agree to rather than just trappling on his property rights until something is built that you really don't want. I.E, act positively on this rather than complaining 


Can you say - NIMBY?

infostat's picture

Superior diversity

"I suppose you feel you idea of architecturally diverse homes is superior to that of Mr. Mollenhour?"

Yes, as a matter of fact I feel exactly this way. Why on earth would anyone want to buy, live in, or look at one of 70 houses that are exactly the the same and built practically on top of each other?

"Hey, if you hold out long enough, maybe you will get a trailer park instead - wish for double-wides... "

I highly doubt anyone would go to the expense of purchasing the land and dealing with all the drainage, flooding, and sinkhole problems therein to build a trailor park. That would be dumb. Come to think of it, as far as aesthetics go, Mr. Mollenhour's developments are less interesting to look at than trailor parks.

"Can you say - NIMBY?"

With a vengence.

"isn't building close in to the city on property such as Magazine counter to the so-called / dreaded urban sprawl most progressives denounce?"

Now this is provocative and I've no quick quip in reply. I'm going to think more on this one.


R. Neal's picture

Hey, RedDog, I'm all for

Hey, RedDog, I'm all for personal property rights. I have an idea for a federally funded combination methadone clinic and halfway house for convicted child molesters. Can you send me your address so I can see if there is any property in your neighborhood, maybe even next door, that I could buy and exercise my rights to establish this? I'm pretty sure I have a couple of public officials on the hook who can help me jam through a zoning change.

(On your previous note re. fishing at Butterfly Pond, I never had any problems with property owners, but this was around 1968. Also, I was wondering if that other pond called "Disappearing Pond", owing to the aforementioned sinkholes I guess, was still there across Chapman Hwy?)

Up Goose Creek's picture


If the guy had a history of saving trees in his developments I'd have some symathy. I agree with RD that we can't just pull oup the moat after us. I don't want to breath the extra fumes produced if these people are commuting out to Semour. And I support the idea of clustering homes and building townhouses so the natural area can be preserved.

But... I don't see where the City has a history of holding developers' feet to the fire regarding tree preservation. I know the county sure doesn't even try. The best defense is a good developer and this ain't it. Also the sinkholes worry me.

Plus, at 5 du/acre it's way more dense than the surrounding neighborhood which I would guess is 3 du/acre. Perhaps a 42 unit development could be done that would be a credit to the neighborhood and stay away form the sinkholes but not this.

Bob's picture


Since someone asked:

As its webpage says, "The Knoxville, Knox County, KUB Geographic Information System (KGIS) has been providing maps and GIS-related services to the greater Knoxville, Tennessee community since 1985."

Enter an address, parcel id, or owner's name to search. Click the address, parcel id, or owner's name in the results for a Property Map and Details Report.

Good for being a concerned (or nosy) neighbor, or for finding your School Zone, Voting Location, local representatives, etc.


Pick "Property Map and Details Report"

Although the form asks for specific addresses, you can get a whole neighborhood in a few searches... Just don't enter the full name of the street on one line; there are two fields:
for "Street Name," type "Colonial"
for "Street Type," pick "DR" from the drop down list

Result: 39 properties and owners listed

All public records, but this kind of research used to take an afternoon at the clerk's office.

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