Minvilla Manor

Knoxville, Tennessee

Award Type: National Trust/HUD Award

Using creative financing such as historic and low-income tax credits, the Volunteer Ministry Center rehabilitated Minvilla Manor into a 57-unit permanent supportive housing development with offices and community space, spurring revitalization in the surrounding community. 

In the early 20th century, Fifth and Broadway was just a streetcar ride away from the bustling heart of Knoxville’s commercial center and the 13 Minvilla townhomes were the height of sophisticated living for the city’s growing middle class. By the 1960s, however, the townhomes had been converted into the Fifth Avenue Motel, a magnet for crime.

In 2006, just four years after the building was condemned by the City of Knoxville, a private social services agency purchased the old Minvilla development and made it the flagship project of city’s pioneering 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness. Using a complex mix of public and private funds, the agency enlisted the help of local craftspeople to meticulously repair and reconstruct the building’s historic features. The notorious motel was reborn as Minvilla Manor: 57 studio and one-bedroom units—all of which meet ENERGYSTAR standards—of permanent supportive housing for the formerly homeless. The restoration is part of a larger revitalization in the area, and it in turn has spurred new commercial and residential development.

"While each is unique, this year’s outstanding award winners all reflect the importance of protecting what is special and irreplaceable," said Stephanie Meeks, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.  "Whether it’s the restoration of a brewery in Baltimore or the redevelopment of a classic roadside motor court in Tucson, this year’s award winners demonstrate how preservation is bolstering local economies and creating jobs in communities across the country."