Lonsdale, Knoxville, Tennessee
Lonsdale is a neighborhood in Knoxville, Tennessee, United States, located northwest of the city's downtown area. Established in the late-19th century as a land development project, Lonsdale incorporated as a separate city in 1907, and was annexed by Knoxville in 1917. After a period of decline in the latter half of the 20th century, Lonsdale has recently undergone several major revitalization efforts.
Lonsdale is located just over a mile northwest of Downtown Knoxville. Sharp's Ridge rises to the north of Lonsdale, Second Creek flows to the east (Interstate 275 runs roughly parallel to Second Creek), and the East Fork of Third Creek runs through the heart of the neighborhood. Lonsdale is traditionally bounded by Texas Avenue to the west, Heiskell Avenue to the north, and the Western Heights housing development to the south. Knoxville College and Mechanicsville lie to the south, on the opposite side of Western Heights.
In the late-19th century, what is now Lonsdale was part of a 240-acre (97 ha) farm owned by entrepreneur William Ragsdale. Noting the success of the nearby Knoxville Iron Company and its housing developments in Mechanicsville, Ragsdale decided to embark upon a similar venture for his property. In 1890, he recruited several dozen investors and established the Lonsdale Land Development Company, the name "Lonsdale" being a combination of his mother's maiden name, Lonas, and the "dale" in his father's last name, Ragsdale. In May of that same year, Ragsdale established the Lonsdale Mill Company to produce flour and provide employment for the new community. This company erected a four-story mill that produced 200 barrells of flour per day, which it marketed under the brands "White Rose" and "Sunrise."
Early Lonsdale developed in a manner similar to nearby late-19th century neighborhoods such as Lincoln Park and Old North Knoxville. A number of Queen Anne-style houses from this early period still stand in Lonsdale. Streets in the new neighborhood were named for Civil War generals (e.g., Burnside, Sherman, and Stonewall) and Union states. In 1892, the Lonsdale-Beaumont Water Company procured water rights, which helped draw more industry to area. These new industries, along with existing companies such as Brookside Mills, whose factory stood along Second Creek just southeast of Lonsdale, provided steady employment for the neighborhood's residents.
During the 1920s and 1930s, as local industries shut down in the aftermath of the Great Depression, moonshining and bootlegging became problematic in Lonsdale, and raids by the local police were not uncommon. Honky-tonks and dance halls, with names like the "Twilight Zone," the "Hound Dog," and "Sugar Hill," sprang up throughout the neighborhood. After World War II, many of Lonsdale's long-time residents moved away, leading to a large number of absentee owners, and many of the neighborhood's houses began to deteriorate.
During the 1970s and 1980s, Lonsdale suffered from increased crime rates and urban blight. In the 1990s and 2000s, Lonsdale United for Change, the Knoxville Community Development Corporation, and the Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission initiated a series of efforts aimed at revitalizing the neighborhood. These efforts focused on the removal or restoration of blighted properties, the restoration of public parks, and a massive overhaul of Lonsdale Homes, a 65-building housing complex constructed in 1952. Several companies have recently opened stores or warehouses in the area, most notably SYSCO Food Services's 350,000-square-foot (33,000 m2) distribution center.
- Knoxville-Knox County Metropolitan Planning Commission, Lonsdale Redevelopment and Urban Renewal Plan, November 2005. Retrieved: 1 December 2010.
- East Tennessee Historical Society, Lucile Deaderick (ed.), Heart of the Valley: A History of Knoxville, Tennessee (Knoxville, Tenn.: East Tennessee Historical Society, 1976), pp. 104, 277.
- Knoxville Community Development Corporation, Building Pride in Lonsdale, 17 December 2009. Retrieved: 2 December 2010.
- John Wooldridge, George Mellen, William Rule (ed.), Standard History of Knoxville, Tennessee (Chicago: Lewis Publishing Company, 1900; reprinted by Kessinger Books, 2010), pp. 214-215.
- Amy Miller, "Lonsdale Started Out As a Development Project," Knoxville News-Sentinel, 6 September 1995.
- Knoxville Chamber, Brookside Mills. Retrieved: 2 December 2010.