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Downsizing Downtown



BRUCE AND MONIQUE ANDERSON ARE LIVING THE GOOD LIFE DOWNTOWN

Story by Gay Lyons | Photography by Ben Finch

Monique Anderson became intrigued by downtown when she and other members of her Leadership Knoxville project team studied downtown in 2000 and when she and husband Bruce went on City People Home Tours.

“We went in buildings where we had no idea people were living,” she said. “It was so cool. I said to Bruce, ‘Someday I’m going to live downtown.’ He said, ‘Someday I’ll move into a condo, but I won’t live downtown.’ He was worried about the same things people always ask about: Where do people park? How do they go to the grocery store?”

Bruce, who retired from his position as Vice-President of Legal Services at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in December 2018, and Monique, Associate Dean and Registrar at the University of Tennessee Knoxville, who’s retiring in July 2019, had lived in their house in Sequoyah Hills since 1984.They met when Bruce was taking a year off between college and law school and Monique was a junior. In August, they will have been married 45 years. They have two sons, both of whom live in Knoxville. James, 33, and his wife Susanna are parents of 16 month old Nina. John, age 28, is a designer at Bacon and Company.

It took a 150 year old oak tree crashing through their house during a storm of epic proportion to get Bruce and Monique from their family home into a condo--downtown.

Monique was home alone on April 25, 2011.

“I was baking chicken and drinking wine with the Food Channel on,” said Monique. “Things started flying past the windows. It got dark, and I heard a big crash. I said to myself, ‘I hope that wasn’t the big tree in front of the house.’ I went to the basement, thinking maybe it’s a tornado. It lasted about 10 minutes. When I went outside, I discovered the oak tree had fallen across the house. It was horrible. We knew it was going to take a long time to fix. I was upset; Bruce was calm.”

“We were both interviewed on tv,” she continued. “Bruce was on one channel saying, ‘We have insurance; they’ll fix it.’ I was on another channel saying, ‘My house is never going to be the same.’ We moved into a hotel and considered our options. Bruce said, ‘Maybe we should
try downtown on the insurance company.’ We let friends know we were looking for a place downtown.”

They discovered the Glencoe and were the first people to move into the newly renovated building on State Street--across the street from First Presbyterian Church and next door to the back of the Tennessee Theatre.

“The first night we were in the Glencoe, we went to a movie at Regal Riviera Cinema and walked back home,” said Monique. “I said to Bruce, ‘You know we’re never leaving.’ He said, ‘No, they’ll fix our house; we’re moving back.’”

It took Bruce four months to say: “Yeah, I want to stay.”

“We purchased the condo we had been renting and never went back to the house,” said Monique. “We sold it after renovations were completed, a project that took 14 months.”

“It just made sense,” said Monique. “We had a lot of friends who had moved downtown. It was close to my work and his work. We love walking downtown. We walk to everything. We had planned to move to a condo someday. Our youngest child was close to finishing college. We found out there was a whole community of people like us living in downtown Knoxville. And Bruce quickly found out it was easy to park and go to the grocery store.”

“We never missed our ‘stuff,’” she said. “We moved what we needed into the condo. Everything else went into storage. After the first year, I couldn’t have told you what was in the storage unit. After seven years, we decided to deal with it. James and John took some things, and we donated the rest to Habitat for Humanity.”

As for downsizing from 3500 square feet to 1500 square feet? No big deal, says Monique.

“We live in the same five rooms we lived in when we lived in the big house.”

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