Tennessee Modernism: Newton House by Robert Judd

Structure: Donald Newton house
Location: Knoxville, Tennessee
Architect: Robert Judd
Date: 1968
Story: Today’s story starts (as many of them do) with a real estate listing.

As I was perusing old Zillow listings, I came across a beautiful house made of glass, wood, and natural stone. Down below the photos, the listing contained this funny little line: “This Frank Lloyd Wright style property was designed by the same architect that did the Kentucky Lake Lodge.” First, I had a laugh. As the photos below will illustrate, there was nothing Wrightian about this house.

The other part of the sentence did not make me laugh, but it piqued my curiosity. It was the first clue to figuring out who this mysterious architect might be… so into the historical records I went.

First, the lodge. In the early 1960s, the TVA worked with the state of Kentucky to take a bunch of lakeside land and turn it into a place that tourists would want to vacation. The resulting park (Kentucky Dam Village) featured a restaurant, lots of lodging, a marina, and endless walking trails.

The highlight of the park was the Kentucky Dam Village Lodge, a marvelous structure overlooking the Kentucky Lake, a place replete with motel rooms, a pool, and this incredible floating copper fireplace.

Now, back in Knoxville, there was a civil engineer who worked at the TVA. His name was Donald Newton. Newton was not just a civil engineer, he was also a leaders at the Knoxville Society of Friends (Quakers). When the society was in need of a new meeting house (in 1961), Newton helped them find a nice wooded spot of land to build on. What a helpful fellow!

Some years later, Newton would build himself a home just down the road from the meeting house. Newton reached out to the architect who had designed the Kentucky Dam Village Lodge, an architect named Robert Judd (based out of Louisville, Kentucky). My hunch is that Newton knew Judd from his days helping the TVA design the Kentucky Dam Village project.

How solid is my theory? Let us examine the evidence by comparing pictures from the Kentucky Dam Village Lodge against the Newton house, see if we can’t spot the similarities.

First, here’s a historical and modern-day picture of what was called the “Executive Cottage”:

And here is the living wing of the Netwon house:

Next, here’s a modern day photo of the Kentucky Dam Village Lodge:

And here’s the main room of the Newton house:

I’m sold, and we’re gonna mark this case solved so I can add the rest of the house photos for your viewing pleasure.