I wrote a letter to UT, telling them how disappointed I was in their record on historic preservation. I didn’t expect a reply, but I got one. I thought I’d share it.
I am writing to say I am extremely displeased with the way UT Knoxville has behaved in regard to historic preservation. The recent acquisition of the houses on White Avenue is a good example of the bullying tactics the University has employed against private, historic properties. Until UT changes its ways, I as an alumni, will never make a donation to the school. Furthermore, I will strongly suggest against donating to all my friends and family. UT should be ashamed of the way it has behaved in this situation. Please strive to do better so the alumni can be proud of their school once more.
Upon rereading I see I messed up a comma placement. Oh well! Pregnant women get a pass on things like that, right?
Thank you for your email and your point of view on historic preservation. The University has done much to preserve historic buildings and culture in the community. From restorations of campus icons like Ayres Hall to having the Tyson House and Hopecote added to the National Registry, we always look for ways to preserve original construction and heritage. We are also currently working on a new Strong Hall academic building where we are preserving a historic gardener’s cottage and repurposing many elements of the old building into the new.
As for the White Avenue homes, I wish I could say I agree with you, but the truth is they have not been historic in the original sense for a long time. Landlords of the years have stripped the homes apart and subdivided them into apartments, making modern upgrades, and not restoring the homes back to their original charm or character.
The University will continue to preserve its history and contribute to the community in many ways. Please let me know if you have specific concerns or interests regarding our master plan.
Thanks again for sharing your thoughts.
A big bunch of MALARKEY, sir! UT has a dismal track record in regard to historic preservation. Everyone knows this. I hate being blatantly lied to/misled in an email. Strong Hall was historic and they ripped it down. The “historic gardener’s cottage” adds insult to injury. Suffice it to say, I will never donate a dime to UT and I urge anyone and everyone I know to further boycott their fundraising appeals.