The iconic small white house that Ethel Mae Bryan and her seven children lived in was torn down Monday to make way for a shopping center.
The house sits on 12 acres at the corner of Morganton Road and William Blount Drive. Within 12 to 24 months, the location will be the site of a “village-style shopping center,” said Nick Cazana, president of Commercial and Investment Properties Co.
CIP, a property development and commercial real estate firm in Knoxville, partnered with Crossroads Village Maryville Blount LLC, which purchased the property in July.
According to a Blount County real estate assessment document, Crossroads paid $849,000 for the property despite $326,000 assessment earlier this year.
“We think it’s an excellent location,” Cazana said. “It is a tremendous corner.”
Felix Bryan, Ethel Mae’s grandson, also thinks fondly about the property his family owned for 76 years.
Ethel Mae bought the house in 1943 shortly after her husband died, Felix Brown said. She made a $3,000 down payment and moved herself and her seven children into the single-story home.
Bryan lived in the house until her 1985 death, at which time Felix Bryan’s father and two of his aunts gained ownership. The estate was passed onto children and grandchildren of those siblings in 2018. A year later, the adult children and grandchildren sold the property, including the small white house.
The house has been vacant since the early 2000s, Felix Bryan said, but for years before that, the house was home to several family members.
“It was a special place,” Felix Bryan said. “It represented Maryville for sure.”
Six months after selling the property, Crossroads had the house demolished Monday. Cazana said the home appeared to be a danger to the community.
“We considered it a health hazard,” he said.
Further construction is not expected to happen soon, but Cazana said he believed the shopping center will be up and running within two years.
The vision for the property is a village-style shopping center — meaning the center will be less like a strip mall and more like a casual place to “grab a bite to eat” or shop, Cazana said.
His firm has been developing properties for more than 25 years. Its current project is the development of Century Park, an 80-acre office complex in Knoxville.
The company also has developed several shopping centers including the Gallery Shopping Centers in Knoxville, Nashville and Huntsville, Alabama — all of which are more than 80,000 square feet.