A new bed and breakfast will soon open in Knoxville, offering an alternative to the big box hotel chains that have been a blight upon the community. This not-Econo-Lodge is located in an old Victorian Greek Revival Post Modern Arts and Crafts style home in the heart of an old neighborhood teeming with character. The fully restored house has been updated inside and out to reflect its 1800’s glory as a brothel, a private home, a gang hideout and finally a crack house.
The B&B promises a new twist on guest accommodations, as it was the scene of an infamous crime. In early May, 1897, resident William Robertson Pyle painted the house a color that conflicted with neighborhood restrictions. That day was etched into Knoxville history as “Orange Wednesday,” and was immortalized when the local university chose that very shade of orange as one of its school colors.
As if that wasn’t enough, Pyle continued with his shunning of the neighborhood covenant which local residents had come to hold dear. He built a spire a total of 7 inches taller than rules allowed, and proceeded to attach a chicken-shaped weather vane to the top.
The neighborhood board was outraged. They passed 14 resolutions declaring that if the “eyesore” was not fixed, there would be serious consequences. Pyle did not acquiesce, and finally, Kerry F. Bush, the board president, sent an angry mob and drove Pyle out of town on a rail.
It is said to this day that the ghost of Pyle haunts the house, roaming from room to room, sometimes painting things orange. It is that very story the new owners, Ben Baller and Jerry Joppa hope to cash in on.
“We really went with the whole orange theme inside the house,” explained Baller, “but we still couldn’t paint the outside orange, so we used a lovely terra cotta color instead. We also documented the home’s history in photographs and news clippings throughout the house, including police reports from when it was a brothel, and the SmokingGun.com mugshots of the crackheads who last lived here.”
“The rumors of Pyle still haunting it really helped drive interest in this house throughout the years, with the last owners being crackheads. They were said to have bought the house hoping to find a ghost, but their asses got busted instead,” said Joppa, “we just hope that our restorations will make the ghost happy.”
The house will begin receiving guests on the anniversary of the event, sometime in early May, as soon as the owners can figure out exactly which day. They’ve narrowed it down to two possible dates, being that there are usually only two Wednesdays early in any given month.
“We’re still trying to track down a calendar for 1897, but my dang Mac won’t let me set it back that far,” Joppa told us.
Rates are said to be around $200/night per room, and there are 4 guest rooms each with private bathroom. Breakfast will be served from 6:30 to 9 in the morning.