KH invites members to tour Mary Boyce Temple House

Knox Heritage (KH) members are invited to a viewing of the newly restored Mary Boyce Temple House on Thursday, March 20, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The house is located at 623 W. Hill Avenue in downtown Knoxville. After many years of determined work by architect Brian Pitman, KH members who toured the property in 2010 will now be able to see what his passion, vision and determination have accomplished during this exclusive tour.

The house tour will include light refreshments. Free parking is available at the Main Avenue parking garage (beneath the Bank of America building) RSVP to Knox Heritage by March 18th by email at

Those who are not KH members but wish to attend may make a donation to Knox Heritage and become a member. Donations are accepted online at here or by calling the Knox Heritage office at (865) 523-8008.

The Mary Boyce Temple house is a 1907 Queen Anne-style mansion and one of downtown Knoxville’s last remaining structures originally designed as a single family residence. The Temple House got its name from the owner living there from 1922 to 1929. Mary Boyce Temple was a Vassar-educated socialite and community activist who organized the Bonny Kate Chapter of the DAR and represented the state of Tennessee at the Paris Exposition of 1900. In 1925, she played a critical role in saving Blount Mansion, a few blocks from the Temple House, earning her the reputation as Knoxville’s first historic preservationist.

Long after Ms. Temple owned the house, it was divided into student apartments and then experienced decades of neglect. In 2003, when developer Shailesh Patel wanted to build a new hotel on Henley Street, a plan called for demolition of the Temple House and the neighboring Lord Lindsey. Knox Heritage included the house on its “Fragile Fifteen” endangered properties list and informed Patel of the buildings’ significance. Together with Patel, the City of Knoxville, and other Hill Avenue property owners, Knox Heritage found a creative compromise that provided the needed land and parking for the hotel project, preserved the Temple House and the Lord Lindsey, and secured a substantial grant toward the renovation of the Temple House.

Architect Brian Pittman has had a passion for the Temple House for most of his life. When he was ten years old, he and his family moved from Texas to Knoxville. As their car waited at a traffic signal, he looked up and saw the imposing structure and told his mother, “I’ll live there one day.” Pittman purchased the Temple house in 2006 and his painstaking and faithful restoration that is now complete. Please join us for a celebratory tour of the house and support future preservation ventures by supporting Knox Heritage.

Knox Heritage advocates for the preservation of places and structures with historic or cultural significance.