BRISTOL, Tenn. — The E.W. King House’s red brick, wrap-around porch and chimneys make it a recognizable landmark in Bristol, Tennessee.
Despite falling into disrepair over the course of many years, this month marks the one year anniversary of new owners and a renovation.
“It feels so different than it did a year ago,” owner Brad Fluke said. “Open, spacious, huge windows. Just (an) absolutely gorgeous place to be able to work.”
Fluke, who serves as the president and CEO of Honey Do Franchising Group, and his full-time, five-man crew began to both restore and renovate the Queen Anne Victorian home on Anderson Street soon after acquiring it.
Some of the original aspects of the home, such as the front staircase and the hardwood floors upstairs, couldn’t be salvaged, Fluke said. In place of the stairwell, a two-story waterfall will be installed. Other details of the home such as the columns on the porch were remade; however, other staircases, fireplaces, trim and decorations will remain original.
Fluke estimates the second floor will be completed in approximately two weeks, and the first floor will need another six weeks. Fluke’s intended office on the third floor and an outbuilding will be the final stages.
Philanthropist Edward Washington King built the home on the corner of Anderson and Seventh streets in 1903. It became listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.
According to Bristol Historical Association historian Tim Buchanan, there are three important aspects about the home: the architect, the builder and the bricklayer.
George Franklin Barber, a catalog architect, included the design for the King house in a publication entitled “Modern Dwellings: A Book of Practical Designs and Plans for Those Who Wish to Build or Beautify Their Homes,” published in 1901.
The King house joins more than four dozen other homes across the country labeled “Barber Houses.” Bristol, Tennessee has one other Barber House. A wood-frame house on Alabama Street was built by King’s son, Clarence, in 1892. In February, however, the home caught on fire.
The McCurry brothers, who were well-known builders in Bristol, constructed the Anderson Street home. John Jay Fowler was a master brick mason, who did prestigious jobs such as some buildings at King University.
“Everything with that house, as far as Bristol history, is spot on,” Buchanan said. “The E.W. King House is top notch. It’s a priceless landmark here in Bristol.”
When King bought the property, a post-Civil War frame home stood there. Despite knocking down the majority of the house, builders kept the brick retaining wall to incorporate into the new foundation.
The Historical Association acquired the property in the 1990s with the hope of turning the house into a local history and culture museum. The association sold the home to Tom Herbert in December 2016 after concluding the renovation would cost upwards of $1 million. However, the association did spend $170,000 to repair and stabilize the home.
Fluke said he attempted to buy the property from Herbert soon after he acquired it, but Herbert wasn’t interested.
“I had had my eye on the property for many years,” Fluke said. “I had tried to get it from him (Herbert), immediately knowing that this is the perfect building for who we are.”
However, three years later, Herbert agreed to sell after deciding to pursue other ventures, Fluke said.
“For us to be able to remodel our own corporate offices, I mean, what a great fit for us,” he added.
Fluke plans to relocate the Honey Do headquarters from Scott Street in Bristol, Virginia to the Anderson Street home.
Unforeseen hurdles, though, pushed construction back for months when the project began.
“Our city ordinances have been a nightmare to deal with,” Fluke said. “That put us almost three months behind.”
The crew’s other hurdle stemmed from the coronavirus because prices of building materials skyrocketed and materials were scarce.
When renovations began, crews found odds and ends hidden around the home, as well as about a dozen horseshoes buried outside.
Fluke and his crew decided to add their mark to the house by donating small hand tools to a time capsule before closing up a wall on the third floor.
“So the next time somebody tears this building up, they’ll find our care package,” he said.
Despite its age, Fluke contends the building is not haunted.
“We’ve heard that so many times, but, no, I haven’t seen any kind of haunting to it,” he said.
Despite rumors, Buchanan said, the home was not a part of the Underground Railroad despite having underground caverns.
Once construction is completed, Fluke intends to hold a public open house.
“As far as the Historical Association, we’re very pleased with the restoration,” Buchanan said. “They’ve done just a wonderful job.”
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