James Park House (53)
422 West Cumberland Avenue
John Sevier was elected the first governor of Tennessee in 1796. He purchased a lot on Cumberland Avenue with intentions to settle in Knoxville, the new state’s capital. Sevier started building but didn’t get far; reportedly, he ran out of money and only completed a simple foundation and five feet of brick wall.
James Park, a well-established Knoxville merchant and sometime journalist, bought the entire block in 1812. Park used Sevier’s original plans (possibly with help from architect Thomas Hope) to complete the house. The house originally faced Market Street, but during the Victorian era, a porch was added facing Cumberland and Walnut, reflecting the fact that the original side of the house now serves as the front.
Park was an Irish immigrant who became Knoxville’s second and fourth mayor. His son, First Presbyterian Reverend James Park, was born in this house in 1822 and, 90 years later, died in it.
Well-known Knoxville architect Charles Barber, of Barber & McMurry, converted the building into an office and classrooms for the Knoxville Academy of Medicine in 1945. In 1968, the house was extensively renovated and a large addition was built onto the rear of the structure. The house was purchased in 2002 by Linda and Pete Claussen and underwent a total restoration, including replacing the large addition with a smaller, less obtrusive one that houses an elevator and rest rooms. The offices of the Gulf & Ohio Railways now occupy the building.