Boyd-Harvey House Designated With HZ (Historic Overlay)

The newest addition to the Knox County Historic Landmarks listings is the Boyd-Harvey House, located in west Knox County. The Boyd-Harvey House is built of solid brick with a corbelled brick cornice, and a two story rear ell, also of brick. The hipped roof, with interior end chimneys, is covered in patterned metal shingles. Interior woodwork includes fluted trim and Federal-style mantels. A one bay front porch provides access to the front entry, which is through a paneled door marked by a transom and sidelights. Above the front door a shorter second story door opens into an upstairs hall. This style of second story door is often termed a "spirit door." Folk legend suggests that the door was opened after the death of a resident of the house so the deceased's spirit could escape the house. Practicality suggests that the door provided ventilation to the wide upstairs hall, and a way of moving large pieces of furniture to the second floor of the house.


Front view of the Boyd-Harvey house.

Wide board heart pine floors are found throughout the house, with the widest boards, 15-1/2 inches, in the kitchen located in the rear ell. Other distinctive interior features include built in cupboards flanking the fireplaces in the west rooms, both upstairs and down, and in the central room of the back ell and the kitchen, both on the first floor. The back ell was added after the main portion of the house was built, and is not connected to it on the second floor. Two sets of separate boxed stairs provide access to each of the upper story rooms in the back ell. Another distinctive feature of the house is a stone floored dairy located on the east elevation of the back ell. The stone floor of the dairy features a trough, with raised stone shelves on either side, and an arched roof. The dairy could be flooded with water, and in early 19th century dwellings acted as a refrigerator for storing milk, eggs, butter and meat.


A view of the rear ell, as the house undergoes renovations.

An exact construction date for the Boyd-Harvey House has not been discovered. The National Register nomination for the building states that the house was built c.1836, a date based on evidence collected from the back ell by former owners Ruth and Jim Howell. A descendant of Thomas Boyd, who built the house, has said that the house was built in 1823. Research is ongoing to determine the date.


The Boyd-Harvey House is an excellent example of the possibilities of historic preservation. The house is surrounded by recently developed subdivisions, and was included in the auction of the Howells' estate several months ago. While a subdivision is being developed on the remainder of the land, the house and grounds were zoned with an HZ overlay for protection, and were left untouched by the new development. The owners of the house, Robert and Jacqueline Bedwell, are following preservation principles in the rehabilitation of the house. Care has been taken to complete necessary structural repairs, while documenting the original construction and saving in place or reusing original materials. New wiring, plumbing, and HVAC systems will join 180 year old structural beams, bricks, woodwork and flooring, and repaired plaster walls, to recreate the original appearance and preserve the architectural significance of this house, which is one of about a dozen remaining pre-1850 brick homes in Knox County.

Care is taken to save-in-place or reuse original materials.


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