Local Lore: The Pickle Mansion (1633 Clinch Ave)

It's a sad time to bid farewell to one of the last vestiges of a much more glamorous time in the historic neighborhood within the Fort Sanders area. The Historic Zoning Commission voted  last week to allow the home at 1633 Clinch Avenue to be demolished. The house caught fire in 2003 and has further deteriorated since that time.

The G.W. Pickle House, circa 1927, courtesy of the McClung Historical Collection

The G.W. Pickle House, circa 1927, courtesy of the McClung Historical Collection

The home was built in 1899 by General George W. Pickle and his wife, Minnie Pickle. At the time the home was built,  G.W. Pickle was serving as State Attorney General, thereby gaining his title. Pickle was in his late 50s with an adventuresome past when construction began.

Pickle was a teenager when the Civil War began and against the inclination of peers, joined the Confederate Army. He was captured and held as a prisoner of war during his duty.

Following his war service and in poorer health, Pickle attended Princeton and studied law in Indiana. Following his education, Pickle moved to Sevierville,  then to Newport, and later to Dandridge, He eventually formed a partnership with W.R. Turner, his career business partner, in the Knoxville firm Pickle, Turner, and Kennerly, in 1879. He married Minnie in Dandridge in 1881. The couple moved to Knoxville in 1892.

The Pickle Mansion was one of a number of expansive homes, most on generous lots, built nearby on Clinch Avenue and along Laurel Avenue, around 16th Street, around the turn of the twentieth century. The neighborhood, then known as West Knoxville was a street car suburb of Knoxville, having incorporated as a separate municipality in 1888 and annexed by the City of Knoxville in 1897. It had been the site of the Battle of Fort Sanders during the Civil War, only about 30 years before neighborhood development began.

The neighborhood extended to around 17th Street along Clinch and Laurel avenues during the early twentieth century. The Pickle Mansion was at the edge of the neighborhood when it was built. 

A variety of homes existed on other neighborhood streets when the Pickle Mansion was under construction. They were likely remarkable in some cases, but they were often not likely as impressive as the Pickle mansion and other homes near the Pickle Mansion on Clinch Avenue and, especially, along Laurel Avenue. 

Several contemporaries of the Pickle Mansion are still standing on Laurel Avenue. They include 1213 Laurel Avenue, the early twentieth century home of Michael Colgan, a ladies tailor; 1221 Laurel Avenue, the early twentieth century home of M.S. Little, a wholesale clothing dealer; 1403 Laurel Avenue, the early twentieth century home of M.B. Arnstein, a dry goods dealer; 1415 Laurel Avenue, the early twentieth century home of the widow of Martin L. Ross, wholesale grocer;  and 1537 Laurel Avenue, the early twentieth century home of R. R. Swepson of Knoxville Gas & Light Company. Unfortunately, many contemporary homes near the Pickle Mansion and throughout the neighborhood have been destroyed over the years, deteriorating the historic fabric of the neighborhood.