“Nash Hall,” the official residence of the president of the University of Tennessee (the residence of the chancellor of the Knoxville campus from 1989 to 1999) is located at 940 Cherokee Boulevard.
In 1930 the federal government purchased land on Main Street, including the home of Dr. and Mrs. Walter Starnes Nash, for a downtown post office and federal building. Dr. and Mrs. Nash decided to build a new house on Cherokee Boulevard. They worked out arrangements with federal officials to remove wood elements from the 1890s Victorian house for installation in their new, Georgian-style residence. They attempted to secure from the architectural firm of Baumann and Baumann the plans for the Georgian Morton residence on Kingston Pike, but their efforts were rebuffed. They then employed Charles Barber to design their new home in Georgian style. The walnut mantels, doors, beams, cornices, and window facings were carefully removed from the West Main house and were stored in a dry kiln until relocation to Cherokee Boulevard. The massive, fluted columns that Dr. Nash had bought in Chicago were also stored and then relocated.
In the 1940s the house became the home of prominent local attorney Ray Jenkins and his wife Eva, the daughter of Dr. and Mrs. Nash. In 1960 the Jenkinses entered into a gift-purchase agreement with the university (UT paid two-thirds of the price, and the remaining third was donated) allowing UT to acquire the house as a president’s residence. Dr. Andrew Holt and his family moved into the house in fall 1960 and occupied it during Holt’s presidency. Dr. Edward Boling lived in the house throughout his presidency. Work on the boat dock and an additional boat slip, paid for by a contingency fund established by UT alumni for special projects, began in 1970. The projects were completed in 1971. A tennis court was installed in 1973.
When Lamar Alexander, who became president in 1989, preferred to live in his own home and sold the chancellor’s residence next door, Nash Hall was designated as the official residence of the chancellor of the Knoxville campus of the university. Two chancellors, Dr. John Quinn (1989–92) and Dr. William Snyder (1992–99) occupied the residence.
In August 2000 UT announced it would spend up to $475,000 renovating the president’s residence for President Wade Gilley, including installation of an elevator and upgrades to the heat, air conditioning, the kitchen, and at least three bathrooms. An anonymous donor contributed $75,000 toward the upgrades, and the remainder was slated to be paid from gifts to UT. Renovations were not completed by the time of Gilley’s resignation. It was reoccupied as the president’s residence by Dr. John Shumaker in 1992, and renovations made at President Shumaker’s request became an item of controversy in the examination of his use of UT resources. The final presidential occupant of the house was Dr. John Petersen, who moved out in summer 2009, following his resignation.
At its October 2009 meeting, the UT Board of Trustees decided to sell 940 Cherokee Boulevard. The current maintenance costs were $15,000 a month for the vacant property. The house had been recently appraised for $3 million, but the board felt that a price of $5 million was more appropriate. They did not set a minimum price but required full board or executive committee approval prior to finalizing any sale.
In September 2013 the State Building Commission approved the university’s accepting a $2 million offer made by Ruth and Joe Fielden. The house was shown 27 times, received two written offers and at least two verbal offers, none of which exceeded $2.1 million, during its four-year vacancy. Before the house was listed with a realtor, UT went through two sealed-bid processes, neither of which netted a proposal. At the time of the sale, the house was listed at $2.9 million.