Jenkins Residence

Building Area: 7,500 s.f.

Date of Completion: 1955

Type: New Construction

Location: Knoxville, TN

Budget: N/A

Sitting high on a south-facing slope overlooking the Tennessee River, [this] house continues to challenge many of its neighbors’ preconceptions of domestic architecture in this affluent East Tennessee enclave. The centerpiece of this formally simple yet artfully complex tectonic assemblage is a phalanx of black steel columns and beams that extend beyond a masonry base faced in pink Tennessee marble. An open steel catwalk spans between the slender columns and the main body of the house. Inside and outside, seamless steel welds column to beam. Floor-to-ceiling sheets of rolled glass along the south facade afford a sweeping view of the river valley and bluffs beyond.

Designed by Ben McMurry, Jr., the Jenkins House stands as a signpost of the fine modern homes built in the first two decades after World War II in East Tennessee, virtually unknown to architects and historians outside the region. Whether this is a house with a soul is beyond the scope of this author to judge, but that it demonstrates [Frank Lloyd] Wright’s argument that machine can be an extension of the hand is beyond question.

Dodds, George. “Jenkins House (excerpt)”
Oxford American Issue 60 (2008): 70. Print