Sequoyah Hills panorama

A view of the southern most point of Sequoyah Hills with Fort Loudon Lake (Tennessee River) in the foreground and Sequoyah Park. The park, a total of 87 acres, offers two water access sites, picnic area, three baseball/softball fields, and parking to access the Sequoyah Greenway.

History of Kingston Pike / Sequoyah Hills

Nestled just west of downtown Knoxville and the University of Tennessee, along the banks of the Tennessee River to the south and the historic Kingston Pike (KP) to the north, lies one of Knoxville’s oldest premiere residential sections. Against the odds, KP/Sequoyah Hills has retained this status for more than 75 years. During that time, it has evolved from scattered mansions along Kingston Pike and Logan Road (now Scenic Drive) and large tracts of farmland to become a well-loved and diversified, close-in suburban dwelling place for newcomers and legacies as well.

What is now Sequoyah Hills began as several different developments, with the whole finally taking the current name of the great Indian Chief Sequoyah who invented the Cherokee alphabet. Talahi, Shawnee Woods, and Cherokee Hills additions, along with others, reflect this past and add to the texture of the neighborhood.

As the city of Knoxville grew more congested, those who could began to move west and early KP mansions were built. Today, some of the old KP houses have been razed and churches built on their land, some are open to the public as historical treasures and still others are serving as residences. The location of KP along this brief route is the only stretch essentially unchanged from the original road laid out in 1791 by Charles McClung on the ceded hunting grounds of the Cherokee Indians.

The development of KP literally "paved the way" for out-lying residential areas with connecting roads such as Lowes Ferry Road (Northshore Dr.) and Lyons View Pike. Lowes Ferry Road ran by the William Lyon residential property and made a four mile paved connection to KP by 1899. These improvements and their trolley service and early autos opened the way for residential migration west of downtown, as well as a new planning style for neighborhood development; one of deep setbacks, curving roads and large lots.

Captain William Lyon's 300 acre property and house at the crest of the highest hill offered a view so outstanding that others flocked to see it; thus the name of the road that was developed through the property, Lyons View. William Lyon routinely entertained national and regional leaders of this period, including President Andrew Jackson. Lyons View Pike became the site of the first "Hospital for the Insane" under the aegis of William Lyon's daughters' property donation in 1874 and Lakeshore Mental Health Institute still occupies a large section of that property.

Lyons View Pike is important to Knoxville's history also as the site of the elite Cherokee Country Club. This club was first built in 1907, then razed and rebuilt in 1928 as an Albert Benjamin Baumann, Jr. design. Scenic mountain and river views from the dining room and terrace, immaculate grounds of the golf course and many social and sports activities and programs make it a favorite for area residents and Knoxville special events.

Lyons View boasts numerous houses designed by the venerable Beaux Arts architect, Charles Barber of Barber and McMurry. Some of these houses stand today under Historic Overlay Protection, but several have been lost to demolition. The Lyons View Charles Barber era of American Country houses represents early 20th century career successes by Knoxville's business elite. Here you will find the J. Allen Smith Italian Renaissance Revival house (1915) at 5305 Lyons View, the N.E. Logan quaint English Cotswold Cottage (1929) at 5220 Lyons View, and the Hal B. Mebane Georgian Revival house (1931) at 5308 Lyons View.

In the first quarter of the 20th century, Knoxville's westward pressure increased and entrepreneurs such as E.V. Ferrell and Robert L. Faust saw the opportunity for residential development outside the city. Previously saved by the bell of the 1890's depression from industrial development, this land along the riverbanks stood ready and perfectly situated. In 1925, Ferrell bought a tract of land in Looney's Bend off KP and created the beautiful Cherokee Boulevard along the river to access his lots. Faust began development of his 1920 purchase of 100 acres off what was now the end of the boulevard and called it Talahi (Indian for "standing oak forest"). Faust’s utopian project ended in failure with the 1929 Depression and only one house in place, the current UT presidential manse. This house was actually moved from the downtown dirt and congestion to the essentially rural area of Talahi!

The Talahi improvements that were already in place endured. Today, the Sunhouse and Panther Fountains, cast stone benches and pillars, widened intersections of concrete streets, Papoose Park with its double paired gates, quaint street lights and Art Deco representations of American Indian motifs of legends of the Water Spider and Tlanuwas (Thunderbirds) are a hallmark of the area and are on the National Historic Register. During the late forties and through the fifties, the lots of Talahi were sold at modest prices and houses of that era were built along its Indian-named streets.

In 1929 George Barber designed the Sequoyah School, which stands as Knoxville's most highly rated K-5 school. A Knox County branch library, built immediately below the school on Southgate, is an architectural award-wining structure, which provides the usual library services as well as free special programs for story telling, KSO String Concerts and other such events. A small business district which was a part of Faust's Talahi plans is central and offers informal dining, real estate companies, a bank and other businesses.

Post WWII saw an increased demand for modest housing and small cottages were built around Whitlow Park and in other undeveloped areas of Sequoyah. Notable among Sequoyah residences is the J.M. and Lucy Thomas House at 715 Scenic Drive. Built in the mid 1800's, this is the neighborhood's oldest house. Two bungalow style farmhouses, representative of very early, pre-development residences, may be found on Southgate. Thus, we have the diversity from early classical, "period" mansions in the style of English Tudor and English Cottage, American Colonial, Spanish and Italian along with upscale, often eclectic, Victorian housing to Sequoyah Village Apartments of the forties, the cottages of Post WWII, ranch houses of the fifties and sixties, and more variable-sized, generally upscale, traditional structures of other decades. Such is the charm of KP/Sequoyah Hills.

This special community is famed for its trees and gardens. Centuries-old oaks and other hardwood species form a canopy over the native dogwoods, redbuds, crepe myrtles, azaleas and many other trees, shrubs and flowers, evergreen and deciduous, perennial and annual, which highlight this area. The first Dogwood Trail started along Cherokee Boulevard and each spring at Dogwood Festival time this favorite trail treats many visitors to its delights.

Cherokee Boulevard curves around an old Indian mound, much reduced in size by centuries of erosion and looting. Indian artifacts found in nearby areas suggest the presence of these dwellers of long ago whose artifacts may now be buried beneath the bottomlands of Sequoyah Park and Looney Island. The Boulevard also acts as a vantage point to view the Vol Navy, en route to University of Tennessee football games, college rowers racing in early morning, and the nostalgic paddle wheeler, Star of Knoxville, and the Volunteer Princess entertaining passengers embarked at Volunteer Landing.

KP/Sequoyah Hills provides a comforting background of green vistas secured by mature trees, of carillon bells from Sequoyah Presbyterian Church, the sound of water from the fountains, broadened intersections and quaint streetlights. Strollers, runners, bikers, children, and pets come by to add the sparks of life to an evening on the porch. Spontaneous yard visits by a neighbor who walks by lighten the day. Christmas caroling and tree lighting, the Children's Easter Parade and Egg Hunt in Talahi's Papoose Park and Labor Day activities at the Polo Field offer a chance for renewing acquaintances and making new friends. Little League ball games and children's play grounds tie generations together. Volunteers to Sequoyah Hills/Kingston Pike Association, Sequoyah Hills Historic Preservation, Little League coaches, Neighborhood Watch and others work diligently to preserve and improve the neighborhood.

The distant drum beats of the first human inhabitants gave way to the hoof beats of horses and wagons along the old Indian trail that became Kingston Pike and, soon to follow, to the heart beats of residents and visitors. And the beat goes on ...echoing the past and welcoming the future.

Gate to Sequoyah Hills neigborhood

Entrance Gate to Sequoyah Hills located at the intersection of Kingston Pike and Cherokee Boulevard.

Chief Sequoyah

Left: Chief Sequoyah: originator of the Cherokee syllabary.
Right: Bronze sculpture of Chief Sequoyah on arched stone gateway at entrance to Sequoyah Hills.

Cherokee Country Club

Cherokee Country Club located on Lyons View Pike.

Historic residences

Some examples of historic residences located on Kingston Pike and Lyons View Pike.

Talahi development pillar

One of the original sculpted stone pillars at the entrance to the Talahi development.

Art deco inspired Native American motifs

Art Deco inspired representations of Native American motifs throughout Papoose Park. Left: Wrought iron Thunderbirds; Right: close up of carved design on lamp post; and Panther Fountain.

Photos courtesy: Namey Design Studios