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The Dream Continues

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Hailey and Robert Threlkeld Find Their Dream Home in Architect Bruce McCarty's Family Home

Story by Gay Lyons | Photography by Ben Finch

"I said, ‘Oh my God, that’s my dream house!’” remembers Hailey Threlkeld of her reaction to a story by John Shearer that ran in the 'Knoxville News Sentinel' on March 19, 2017. In the story, Shearer revealed that “after nearly 60 years of sitting inconspicuously beyond the views of passersby..., the home will a stop on an ...American Institute of Architects tour.. [and will go] on the market for the first time. With the death of Bruce McCarty in early 2013...and the passing of his wife, Elizabeth, in June 2016, the surviving children [decided] to put the iconic home up for sale.”

Realtor Shannon Foster-Boline said, “Bruce McCarty is our Frank Lloyd Wright, so his design is preeminent among mid-century architects in this area.”

Shearer continued, “After...being a Knoxville draftsman in the early 1950s, Bruce McCarty went on to design by himself or with others some of Knoxville’s most familiar buildings. They include many of the University of Tennessee buildings from the 1960s and ‘70s and beyond, the TVA Towers downtown, the Lawson McGhee Library, the Civic Coliseum/ Auditorium, the City/County Building, the Tennessee Amphitheatre and a number of residences’’ including the one Hailey fell in love with.

At first, it did not look like the dream would come true for Hailey and her husband Robert, Knoxville natives and Webb graduates who are both realtors.

“When it officially came on the market after the AIA tour, I came out here and walked around and fell in love with the view,” said Hailey, “but there was a lot going on at the time that seemed to make buying the house impossible; then a lot of things came together, and we made an offer. There were multiple offers, and I don’t think ours was the highest, but the McCarty family wanted to be sure it was sold to someone who would preserve it.”

“The stars aligned,” she continued. “We talk about it every day, how lucky we are.”

Hailey and Robert take their roles in preserving the home seriously.

“We’ve touched every surface,” she said, “but we’ve tried to keep the character the same. We’ve tried to leave it touched but untouched.”

“Before we moved in, we did the major stuff,” she continued. “We totally gutted the kitchen and put in neutral finishes. We removed the popcorn ceilings and put electricity in the ceilings.”

They removed the sliding partition that used to divide the bedroom used by McCarty sons Doug and Hayes. The current room features a bedroom at one end with a seating area at the other end. Both ends have views of the outdoors as does almost every other room in the home.

“I thought about putting window treatments in the master bedroom,” said Hailey, “but I’m glad we didn’t. The view is incredible.”

Much is the same: built in cabinets, shelves, sofa, tables and lamps in the great room; built ins remain in bathrooms, offices and other areas. Though they removed the shuttered doors on the master closets, they repurposed them to create an attractive barrier around an HVAC unit on the back porch.

In the great room, built in shutters perform the same light-filtering function they did in 1959. Jalousie windows still provide ventilation and air circulation. Hailey and Robert don’t use the two trash cans embedded in concrete for protection from wildlife, but they left them there.

The Threlkelds list the wildlife they see: foxes, deer, every kind of bird, turkeys, coyotes.

“I just saw a beaver,” said Hailey.

“It feels like a nature preserve,” said Robert. “It’s like Lakeshore Park in our backyard. We love the views.”

“We didn’t have a big budget for furniture, so we’ve made what we had work,” said Hailey. “I haven’t done much with the master bedroom, but with that view, I feel like you don’t need to do much.”

“We’ve used things from our families, things that are meaningful,” she continued. “We haven’t filled it really. We’re at base layer. We have several more layers to go. Mid Century Mod is 'in' at Target, so that’s great for me.”

“I like the juxtaposition of old and new,” she said. “It’s neat to incorporate mid century touches, to embrace what was.”

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