Residents save historic  home from auction

Photo By Rick Harris The Jobe House was scheduled to go on the auction block Friday; however, efforts by a group of Hattie Avenue residents trying to save the house paid off when the mortgage company accepted an offer by Jim and Helen Wilson, who live next door, to buy the historic structure.

By Rozella Hardin
star staff

  The "yellow house," or Jobe House, located across from the Covered Bridge at the intersection of Hattie Avenue and Riverside Drive has been saved from the auction block and possible demolition.
  Neighbors on Hattie Avenue and Riverside Drive had joined forces to save the historic structure after learning that it had been foreclosed on and would be sold at public auction this Friday.
  "We had heard and had reason to believe that some local businessmen wanted to buy the property, demolish the house, and build condos there," said Sheryl Garland, who lives up the street from the Hattie Avenue landmark.
  Notification of the auction was made in a legal advertisement published in the STAR on Wednesday, October 20. The house, which was in foreclosure, was formerly owned by Vickie Curtis Maclean and Scott Alan Maclean. Maclean has owned the house since 1992 after purchasing it from the estate of Jeanette C. Range.
  The mortgage on the house - reportedly $200,000 plus - is held by Centex Home Equity Co. LLC., and, according to Garland, some local offers haad been made on the house, but as of Wednesday morning, Centex had not responded. However, Mrs. Helen Wilson learned later in the day that the offer made by her and her husband, Jim, had been accepted, saving the house from the auction block. The Wilson live next door to the Jobe House.
  "It's a dream come true," said Garland, who Tuesday had begun circulating a petition for a stay of the sale by the court. "We already had 50 names by early Wednesday morning," she said.
  "This is a historical house and an important piece of our history," said Garland, "and we need to preserve it rather than tearing it down." Al and Celia Ceffalo and Maxine Davidson, who live on Hattie Avenue have joined Garland in her efforts. "Time was running out, and we were trying to stall the sale for 30 days to give us time to explore our options and come up with some funds to purchase the house before it went on the auction block," Garland explained.
  "We had been told that the house could be repaired for $50,000 or $60,000. The plan is to fix the house up and sell it to someone, who will appreciate its history and restore it," she explained.
  The house, which dates back to perhaps the late 1890s, was built by Dr. Abraham Jobe, who, according to records, is among the earliest known landowners of acreage in the vicinity of Hattie Ave. One of the first doctors in Carter County, Jobe's parents moved to Tennessee from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia shortly before the Revolutionary War.
  Deeds recorded at the Carter County Courthouse reveal that Dr. Jobe in 1845 purchased 143 acres of land in what is now the heart of the Elizabethton business district. He built a home facing Doe River on the west bank of the site where the old Lynnwood Hotel later stood.
  Dr. Jobe sold the property to the old Cooperative Town Company, and sometime in the late 1890s or around 1900, he moved to a new house near the Covered Bridge, which in later years was known as the Range House. However, some believe the house was built as early as the 1880s.
  The house was also the home of John Ryan, Jr., who operated a drugstore in town. A later deed shows that Robert Love Taylor and his wife, Sarah, at one time owned the two-story frame house that Jobe built. Taylor, who later became governor, was living in the house at the time of the May 1901 flood.
  Dr. Jobe subdivided his land among his children; some had already been sold to the Cooperative Town Company. Hattie Avenue is named for his daughter, Hattie Jobe Taylor, who owned six acres of land situated along the Doe River near the Covered Bridge.
  Another daughter, Mollie, was married to Dr. E.E. Hunter, who built the house adjacent to Dr. Jobe's, which is now owned by Helen and Jim Wilson.
  Dr. Jobe lived to be 89 years old and during his lifetime was engaged in the mercantile business in Georgia, shoe and woolen manufacturing in Elizabethton, and lumbering and farming. He was also an Indian agent, and was an ardent Union supporter in the Civil War.
  He was prominently identified with the Union at the time of the burning of the bridges in this section during the Civil war, but opposed such action. He is said to be one of the very few Union people who opposed the bridge burning.
  The Ceffalos, who moved to Elizabethton in the mid-1990s and purchased the old Dungan home at 619 Hattie Avenue across from the Jobe House, lament the fact that none of the Hattie Avenue and Riverside Drive houses are included in the Elizabethton Historic District. "These are some of Elizabethton's most historic homes, and because we do not have a historical commission, there is no means to protect them from destruction," Celia Ceffalo said.
  In addition to the Jobe house, the group also wants to save the Hazel Shepherd home, located at the west end of the street. According to Garland, the city has expressed an interest in purchasing the house as well as the vacant lot on its west side and the apartment building at the rear of the vacant lot. "From what I hear, they want to tear the house down and build a parking lot there."
  "We have been told they have made a $200,000 offer on the house and property. If they have $200,000 to buy that property, why can't that money be applied to a paint job and new lighting for the Covered Bridge or perhaps fixing the weir dam," Garland questioned as did Maxine Davidson.
  City Manager Charles Stahl confirmed that the city is considering purchasing the Shepherd property, subject to a clean environmental check. "The house could contain some asbestos," he said.
  He said the city sometime in the past had indicated if the three parcels of land - the house, the vacant lot beside the house, and the apartment at the back of the lot - all became available at one time, there might be some interest in purchasing the property. Stahl said that when the house's previous owner, Mrs. Hazel Shepherd, died, the house was sold and since that time has been used as a multi-family dwelling, and has not been kept up very well.
  He said the city has made an offer of $199,500 through Chancery Court, which is handling the estate of Patrick Page Kildoyle, who last owned the property. Kildoyle died Aug. 1, 2003. The property is being sold to settle his estate.
  "We understand that offers have also been made on that house, other than the city's offer," said Garland.
  "We plan to be at the City Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday night to discuss the house," said Garland. "We're doing everything we can to save these historic homes."
  "Hopefully, the Council will see the need to establish a historical commission to protect our historical landmarks. It is needed badly," she exclaimed.