I am contacting you in regards to the Eugenia Williams house that was willed to the University of Tennessee.
I have been following the home for more years than I care to remember and I understand the university is going to have a vote at an upcoming Board of Trustees meeting to try and reach an agreement to sell this marvelous home.
Sadly, no one will be present to represent Ms. Williams and her wishes regarding the property. I tried contacting the President and Allison Ross by email and I have not received a reply yet. That is why I am contacting you. I can only hope by some miraculous stroke of luck the home can be saved.
I have read all of the articles and studies that have been printed. However, I have yet to read the fact that UT is the only one to blame for the neglect this home has suffered since they acquired the property in 1998. I also know that Knox Heritage offered a $200,000 grant to help stabilize the home back in 2010 only to be turned down by UT.
Now all that is being presented to the media is how much it will take to restore the home. Yes, it will take a lot of money no doubt. I only hope the property is not sold and the home demolished so someone can build another cookie cutter mansion to display their ego to everyone.
I have included the letter I emailed the president below along with the article from Knox News explaining the $200,000 grant.
Email sent to President:
I am sending this email in response to the news I read today on the Knox News website concerning the Eugenia Williams property.
I am shocked that UT would even think about selling the property. I understand the house may not fit into the university's plan for an easy use, but that house was generously donated to the university. I also realize the university has completed several studies to potentially find a use for the house. However, this property would require thinking out of the box to utilize and you must be open to new ideas.
Just one thought I had years ago when the house was donated to the university, was to involve the school of architecture. The house will need a lot of work to save, but there is no better experience than learning first hand as the students could with this house. You could even do a competition among the students to offer ideas, or let the students work as teams and submit proposals.
I am not sure the university appreciates how many people have been watching this house and anxiously awaiting an outcome that saves the house and property. Yes, the house will take substantial money to save, but the reward in appreciation from the community and knowing the university did what was right would more than offset any short term money issues to save the house.
Please, please, do not let the short term matter of raising the money dictate what action is taken on the property. The university desperately needs to save this house more than someone buying the property to build another run of the mill mansion, or for the property to be split up and sold for another lake development.
Just remember, the property was willed to the university with the understanding the right decision would be made then and in the future, not a decision based on money.”
I would appreciate any input or thoughts you may have in this matter and I appreciate you taking the time to read this.
Brandon McCulley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.