The Parish House

Sanford House
The Parish House of First United Methodist Church
Build it Simply Whether a Cottage or a Castle…Harrie T. Lindeberg (1912)

Basic Information
Architect: Harrie T. Lindeberg
Landscape: Olmstead Brothers
Owner: Hugh W. Sanford
Built: 1926
Size 10,000 sq ft.
Design: English Country Home
Entrance Ornament Lighting: Oscar Bruno Bach
Grounds: 5 .5 Acres

The Parish House, as it’s known by the congregation, stands on 5.5 acres on the banks of the Tennessee River and has been in continuous use for 89 years. At one time, the home was surrounded by an arboretum and gardens designed by the well-known firm of Olmstead Brothers. (A framed original landscape design hangs in the Parish House.)
Tiny architectural details are evident from the front door. Set deep into an alcove, the heavy wooden door is framed by wood carvings. But its door handle is a conversation starter. The handle’s plate is shaped like a Renaissance solider in knee breeches. The soldier’s breastplate armor lifts to reveal a keyhole in his chest. The understated design of this winter home is evidenced by the roof scale and original siting. The original brick walled entrance, motor court and servant quarters were removed in order to facilitate the construction of the educational building.

Lindeberg saw the roof as the “hat of the house” and in each of his designs plays a critical role in the overall design. The Parish House roof is the homes second. It is imported tile and matches the original materials used in 1926. Brick in the structure are hand poured and include pea gravel. Several members of our congregation had family members involved in the construction, John Turner (grandfather of Hal Nichols) was the General Contractor, Warwick Plumbing and Heating (grandfather of Bill Tapp) and William N. Blair grandfather of David Blair) served as the Master Carpenter.

In 1966, the congregation of FUMC purchased the estate from the Sanford family and moved the original downtown church to the current Kingston Pike location. The house, with casement windows, curved walls and ceilings, six fireplaces, and a signature Lindeberg trademark roof, retains the distinctive design and feel of a great country home. Currently, the Parish House is used for office space, classrooms, and community events.
Harrie T. Lindeberg (1897-1959) Lindeberg was considered the master of the English Country Home. As a society architect,Lindeberg designs were understated and comfortable. His finest works were between 1919 and 1930 as tycoons sprang up out of a dizzying stock market rise and no taxes. Clients of Lindeberg include: Pillsbury’s of Minneapolis, Hugo Neuhaus, Houston, Vincent Astor, New York, Laurence Armour, Lake Forest, IL, Asheville Country Club, Nelson Doubleday, Oyster Bay, Houston Country Club,Seth Thomas, Morristown, NJ. 

Oscar Bruno Bach (1884-1957) Decorative Metal Work. Entrance Globe Light fixture and railings. Bach, of German decent, was the most technically skilled and commercially successful designer of decorative metal work of the first half of the 20th Century. His works can be seen in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His mural work graces the lobby of the Empire State Building. Other major works include: Rockefeller Center, Chrysler Building, Woolworth Building.
Fredrick Law Olmstead: The firm founded by the famed landscape architect Fredrick Law Olmsted (Olmstead Brothers) provided the house site for the buildings and landscape design for the Sanford House. The father of John and Fredrick Jr. was the designer of Central Park in NYC as well as many other national sites including Biltmore in Asheville NC. The design plan can be viewed in the entrance hall of the home. The plans are water colors on linen. On the reverse are the notes of Mr Sanford regarding the design. Little today remains of the original plantings. The firm of Olmsted remained in operation until 1980.

A.F. Sanford Arboretum: In 1928, Hugh Sanford’s brother sold the Knoxville Journal & Tribune to pursue his lifelong dream of building an arboretum that contained an example of every tree native to Tennessee. Tended by Sanford and gardener Pleasant Wright, the final museum spanned 20 acres between Kingston Pike and the Tennessee River. In early 1940 Sanford offered the Arboretum to the University of Tennessee Botany Department. The university declined the offer due to the high upkeep costs. In 1946 the arboretum was subdivided. Sanford’s home was Boxwood hence Boxwood Square and the adjoining area.