Crazy for Christmas Marlowe House: Don’t miss it

Sandra ClarkOur Town Leaders, West Knox County

Gray Eagle Springs, a small neighborhood in West Knoxville, has become the go-to spot to see Christmas lights. It wasn’t always that way.

Sheila Marlowe

“When we first moved here, there was just one house with lights. It had one reindeer. My husband said, ‘I wonder what they will think of our Christmas lights?’” Sheila Marlowe recalls.

Sheila and Joseph Marlowe had moved to Knoxville from Savannah, Georgia, when the theater company Joseph worked for was acquired by Regal Cinemas.

The family loved Christmas lights, so they installed theirs here. And a funny thing happened.

Gray Eagle Springs eased into holiday lighting one home at a time. Each year the lighting grows and so does the traffic on the cul-de-sac street.

Of course, the Marlowes’ lights got attention. And Sheila’s Facebook page keeps everyone informed about promotions and traffic maps. “On hot chocolate night, we sit outside in lawn chairs to talk with each other and the people who drive through. You can feel the day’s stress melting away.”

Along the way, Sheila was elected president of the homeowners’ association. “Dues are just $150 per year and it’s a good way to protect property values,” she says.

Neighbors started talking to each other; somebody suggested collecting donations for Second Harvest. Somebody else set up a North Pole mailbox (letters will be answered if an address is given). A law enforcement officer drafted a traffic flow plan to reduce congestion on Bob Gray Road. Volunteers help move traffic during peak times.

A drone photographer, Jeanne’s Droneventures, has posted pictures on her Facebook page.

And here is Joseph’s quick video on TikTok.

“This is an amazing neighborhood of people,” said Sheila. “We collect 20-30 boxes of food every year for Second Harvest – contributions of food and money worth $37,000.”

People ask her how to get a whole neighborhood organized to promote lights (or anything). Marlowe says it was spontaneous. “Now 41 of our 43 homes are decorated.”

Here is a look at the entire subdivision:

Sheila is also an agent with Realty Executives Associates. It’s a second career for her, begun when her adult daughters left home. Joseph grew up learning construction doing projects with his dad and he’s a longtime volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. In 2009, they found a house that was about 60 percent finished. Fallout from the market crash. The couple bought it from the bank and finished it themselves.

“I slid sideways into this (real estate) world, but it’s a great job for a people-person.”

She chose to affiliate with Realty Executives after meeting with then-CEO Steve Fogarty.

As an agent, she is more reflective than gung-ho. “At this stage of my life I seek information and I invest time to learn. … I tell buyers to learn all they can about the biggest investment they will make. … Don’t just buy the first pretty house you see.”

Sheila Marlowe is quick to laugh and fearless as a leader. She met Barrett Roofing’s Superintendent Ron Schwanke as a real estate client, and when she and Joseph needed a roof, she called Ron. “I knew you would call,” he said. “I’ve got a plan for a new roof that will support the Christmas lights.”

Word spreads quickly in Cedar Bluff.

You can reach Sheila Marlowe at or 865-386-4448.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *