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No Erasure: Preserving The Story Of College Homes In Knoxville, Tn

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Built in 1939-40 and razed in 1998, College Homes was a public housing project for African-Americans located in Knoxville, Tennessee. This thesis tells the story of the planning, construction, and eventual demolition of College Homes in order to highlight the project's historic significance and to question the effectiveness of legally binding mitigations when applied to the demolition of properties eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The thesis begins with a historical overview of public housing on both national and local scales. This is followed by an assessment of housing conditions confronting African-American Knoxvillians during the first third of the twentieth century. Next, the meaning of surveys that quantified these housing conditions and the construction of College Homes are discussed. Chatham Village, designed by Henry Wright, is then presented as a model for the design of College Homes in order to inform the subsequent discussion of the significance of the Knoxville project. The remainder of the thesis first addresses why, toward the end of the twentieth century, public housing was considered a failure, and how College Homes fit into this judgment. Finally, the historic significance of College Homes is framed through the lens of National Register criteria in order to discuss the efficacy, or lack thereof, of the memorandum of agreement drawn up as mitigation to permit the property's demolition. The thesis shows that College Homes was indeed historically significant for a variety of reasons, and that memorandums of agreement -- in addition to, in this case, being poorly enforced -- can be an inadequate means of memorializing a historic property.

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2009-10-13T13:44:50Z

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dissertation or thesis

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