Robert Daniel House by Fitzgibbon in Knoxville

We had the pleasure of visiting with the owners of the Robert Daniel house here in Knoxville. The house was designed and built by James Fitzgibbon in 1950. I won’t bore you too much with words. The house is incredible. The owners say they regulalrly find architects at their door dropping by to see Fitzgibbon’s master work. Often they are old friends of his.

The rock is all local from the Candora Marble company, which supplied a lot of what you seein Washington DC.

The lucite triangle coming out of the roof is where a tree used to grow.

Upper deck area that used to be a childrens play area.

Above to the left is where the master bedroom is.

Through the bookcase you can see the step down to a study. Bedroom above.

Looks out to a gardwn and fountain area.

15 Replies to “Robert Daniel House by Fitzgibbon in Knoxville”

  1. Found a reference to this in Wikipedia. The steel for the frame was scavenged from WW II Quonset huts. I’d live there! :D

  2. very cool, thanks for the photos. the flavor of this house strikes me as very similar to kentuck knob, in pennsylvania, by flw. highly recommend that tour – and you ought to visit fallingwater too while you’re at it.

  3. We visited this house while it was still on the market. At the time there were multiple offers on it, and we still had a house to sell so we gave up easier than we normally would have. It’s amazing to me that, while thousands of other houses stay on the market for many months or years, that more builders don’t venture out of the cookie cutter and build something unique someone might actually want to own, versus “settle for” because of a convenient location.

    When we visited the home I couldn’t believe the kind of shape it was in. Wires everywhere, a house of glass without any of the windows looking like they had been cleaned in several YEARS. Irrigation issues and clogged gutters. The next time I saw new pictures of this home I was hoping to see all the stone pressure washed but I’m sure the new home owners are busy just trying to keep the water out right now.

    The home is built into a hillside. While this helps with the cooling, as you can imagine, it leads to moisture and insect problems. It was renovated in the 1980’s and I’m not sure if I agree with the changes. There was a wall added to separate the living room from the bedroom/den/office area that really disrupts the flow, and is covered in cheesy 80s paneling. The kitchen is very outdated, but definitely has potential.

    My mind went wild with all the ideas for the house. When I first saw it in the MLS my jaw dropped. To live in a mid-century modern is a dream of mine, and to see one for sale built with tons of marble, quonset hut beams, and glass was almost too good to be true. I’m very envious of the new homeowners, and I’m keeping my eyes open for other gems that may come on the market.

  4. Scott,
    The new owners have pressure washed the marble, several times! It is a job that must be repeated several times a year. They have spent lots of time and money working on the irrigation issues and it is getting close. The covering of the old garage area was done very badly. The design causes water flow issues.
    The paneling you speak of, is I think, actually wormy chestnut. Extremely rare wood. If they pulled it out and sold it, they could probably pay off the house and then some. But it part of the house design. And what do you replace it with? I don’t think the wall you speak of was added later. It has chnaged over the years, but really for the better. The old pictures show some ugly shelves there and it was changed to be more open. The biggest changes occured A) when HVAC was added to cover ducts and B) when Callandruccio(sp) renovated it and covered the car port area.
    The current owners told the story you refer to. The windows were all covered when they saw the house. Imagine living there and tacking sheets over all the windows! And so filthy they had to hire a crew to almost shovel it out. They had no idea what the floor looked like! It has come a long way from there and is on it’s way back to 100% health. It is in good hands. I hope it stays healthy.

  5. we’re moving to knoxville within a year. where can i find this house?! i’d love to see it. f.l. wright meets mark chagall in a quonset hut! fascinating.——jj

  6. The house is at 2701 Woodson Drive. I saw the house several years ago and it has survived admirably. The stone was salvaged from local quarries. Considering the house is near the Smokie Mountains, with considerable rain and humidity, it has survived the moisture problems well. Today’s technology regarding drainage and retaining wall moisure barriers may help keep this interior dry.

  7. Swanky,

    We were the fortunate custodians (I’m pretty sure that no one will ever actually own the Daniel House) between 1993 when we purchased it from Peter and Susan Calandruccio and 2001 when we sold it to Johnny. Your description, and Scott’s too, of the condition of the house of late fits with the very dire reports we were getting from our former neighbors along Appleby. We are very glad to hear the house again has loving caretakers.

    We assembled a huge collection of information – original construction photos, correspondence, original blueprints and drawings, newspaper clippings and on and on – to be submitted with the application for inclusion on the National Register. It is our great hope that these materials were passed along to the new family. They are now, for the most part, irreplaceable.

    As you and others have observed the house is, almost by design, a challenge when it comes to seepage, drainage and other moisture issues. This was a constant battle for us and I can think of nothing, short of relocating the house, that could offer any relief. I would say the same about the heavily wooded site and the issue of leaf raking which complicated the moisture problems, especially along the upper level of the house.

    We were interested to see that the beautiful slat fence which screened the sunroom from Woodson Drive has apparently been extended around the entire perimeter of the property.

    We’d like to add just a few bits of information to add to the story or to clear up some apparent misconceptions.

    The house was originally considerably smaller and, I would guess, much less light-filled than its current configuration. Robert Daniel was an English professor at the University of Tennessee and the house was host to countless gatherings of literary illuminati. There were two Daniel children whose tiny adjacent bedrooms on the second floor were separated by an accordion folding door. They shared a basin between the two spaces. The current sunroom, which now extends the kitchen considerably, and adjacent marble deck was originally a carport which was accessed from Woodson Drive, hence the current address as opposed to an address on Appleby Road. The house’s entrance was a thoroughly unassuming wooden slab door that opened into the low ceilinged dining room which then as now opens into that amazing soaring ceiling in the living room. The sunroom addition as well as the three car garage to the east of the house were the creation of the Cantrell family to accommodate their three daughters. The bookcase dividing the living room and den was likewise a Cantrell addition to provide a separate more private bedroom space.

    When the Calandruccios came to the rescue the house was in real danger of caving in, riddled with termites and inhabited by wild critters. While you are correct that much of woodwork in the house is indeed priceless, irreplaceable wormy chestnut, extensive termite damage required Peter to “recycle” as much as he could but to use other less desireable materials (plywood and drywall) to reconstruct the bookcase (now open to the den, a very nice modification) and the storage unit in the upstairs hallway as well as some of the interior walls. The plexiglass spire in the sunroom and the PVC mailbox on Appleby Road were Peter’s conception as well. Legend is that the opening in the roof, fine for a carport, was kept open during the Cantrell years, even after the pine tree growing through the opening had died. The schefflera we planted in that space lived there very happily for many years, thriving on the moisture that condensed in the spire and kept it constantly and gently watered.

    Despite the considerable expense and seemingly endless work involved in maintaining this amazing home, we count it as our honor to have lived there for a time. There is much, much more we would love to share with you and the new residents. Let us know if you or they are interested.

  8. Hello all,

    I was pleased to find this conversation regarding our old home in Knoxville. I can still remember the day my father (Peter) was driving down Woodson drive and slammed on the brakes to take a closer look at the Daniels House. He was instantly drawn to the place and spent the next few years obsessing over every detail. I can recall at least 6″ of standing water throughout the downstairs when we first walked into the structure.

    30 years later I’m happy to see that the structure still stands and has been brought back to its glory. (There were a few years there when we thought it might slip back into disrepair).

    Thanks go out to Justin and Alice for a job well done. Next time in K-Town, I’ll try to get in touch to share some memories.


  9. I stayed in this house last week through VRBO. It is for SALE! If I lived in Knoxville, it would be mine. It is just perfect, clean and beautifully decorated throughout with original art and mid-century furnishings. Check out the listing. I believe the realtor is Realty Executives.

  10. I am the newest owner of the Daniel House, having purchased it in September, 2015. I would greatly welcome any communication from past owners or interested parties. I do have all the documents and blueprints that have been collected throughout the years and am so grateful that they have been studiously retained. The house is a treasure, and I hope to continue the maintenance and attention that this historic gem so richly deserves.

  11. Wow! I stumbled across this gem doing some lazy Saturday architecture searching. I am in love with this house, it is definitely love at first sight. I am wondering if there is anyway that I could get the blueprints to this house.

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