South Knoxville’s best-known historic neighborhood is called Island Home. (Those who live in the historic core still use the developer’s original name, Island Home Park.) Not actually on an island, but along a river shore near central Knoxville’s largest island, Island Home got its name from Massachusetts-born Perez Dickinson, a cousin of the poet Emily. Dickinson purchased both the island–Dickinson Island, now home of the Downtown Island Airport–and hundreds of acres along the river shore near it. Here he built his “Island Home,” a brick house that served as headquarters for his impressive experimental farm and as a sort of sociable refuge. That house still stands on the campus of the Tennessee School for the Deaf. That public K-12 institution for the hearing impaired, one of the oldest such schools in America, moved here in the 1920s. Offering services to 200-300 students across the state, TSD uses Perez Dickinson’s old brick house for administrative offices.
The Island Home Park neighborhood sprang up around 1911, along Island Home Boulevard (Knoxville’s first street to be designated as a “boulevard,” by the way). It was such a popular residential option that it earned it own electric streetcar from downtown. Today it’s especialy well known for its Crafstman-style houses. It’s an unusual neighborhood, across one little strand of the river from Dickinson Island. it has its own riverfront park, but Island Home is also near Ijams Nature Center, the 300-acre park that began more than a century ago as a semi-private bird sanctuary, which itself is linked to many miles of bike trails throughout much of South Knoxville.
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