Joan and Victor Ashe get ready to welcome members of Knox Heritage's 1791 Society to their Kingston Pike home.
Joan and Victor Ashe, Knoxville’s longest-serving mayor and former U.S. Ambassador to Poland, clearly are enjoying their newly renovated home on Kingston Pike. How can you tell? Well, for one thing, in the space of 10 days this month they had four parties! Three were benefits for worthy non-profits: Scenic Knoxville, Knox Heritage and the Clarence Brown Theatre. The fourth was a reunion for folks involved with Ashe’s political life throughout the years (more on that one in a future post).
The house truly is spectacular, combining elegance and comfort. It flows well, making it perfect for entertaining large crowds while still offering a sense of intimacy. “We decided that if we were going to get ready for one party, we might as well have several,” Ambassador Ashe explained. “But after that, we are finished for a while!”
The four-story home was designed by Barber & McMurry and built in 1921. Ambassador Ashe moved into it as a teenager in 1961 and, in the 1990s, he and Joan updated it. Following their five years at the American Embassy in Warsaw, the Ashes moved back to the house in 2009. Recent renovations to the home were designed by architect Bill Andrews and constructed by Schmid and Rhodes; hardscapes and landscapes were designed by Steve Hackney. Behind the house are terraced gardens which feature a chapel that the ambassador’s mother, Martha, had built.
My favorite thing about the house is the art it contains, much of it collected by the Ashes during their stay in Poland. They have similar taste to mine: lots of animal images and colorful glass pieces. Here are some photos taken during the Knox Heritage reception the Ashes hosted following the tour of Westwood, which was featured in the previous Blue Streak post (click here for that).
My favorite piece of art in the house is this beautiful glass wave by Wojtek Olech from Wroclaw.
I also loved all the outdoor animal pieces such as this armadillo.
This turtle is poised right beside the front door to greet visitors. Its shell lights up.
A majestic firebird perches among the front landscaping.
This parrot on the patio, as well as the three previous pieces, was made by the Borowski family, a father and three sons.
Another Borowski piece
Joan clearly shares my passion for dishware. This is a fairly common look for Polish dinnerware.
I'm not sure this is Polish, but I like it!
The house is so comfortable, that folks plopped down everywhere to enjoy a scrumptious lunch by caterer Holly Hambright of Holly’s Eventful Dining.
The sunroom lived up to its name!
Loved the way this bunny was positioned in there.
Living room eaters included, from left, Alan Carmichael, Bill and Gay Lyons and Mary Helen Byers. (Sorry for the backlighting.)
Mary Helen Byers, a generous supporter of many non-profits in our town.
Some folks chose to dine al fresco.
Holly Hambright's food was unique, brightly colored and deeply flavorful. She is an awesome caterer. (We called on her to do the Moxley Carmichael client party this year.)
Just look at this toasted pasta dish. Yes, those big chunks are lobster!
These lemon raspberry bars were addictive. They made your mouth pucker -- and smile!
OK, back to the art!
Of course you are going to see elephants in the Ashe home. They are Republicans.
Here is a portrait of Victor.
And one of his mother, Martha Ashe
Joan and Victor still have the chair that was in Martha Ashe's portrait, although it has been recovered several times.
An interesting display of vessels
A piece by noted Knoxville artist Richard Jolley
I liked the way this rhino was hiding under the table.
This ballot box was made for a private men's club in London around 1875, Ashe said.
I asked Kimbro McGuire to pose beside this Borowski chameleon to give an idea of its size. Loved it.