New life for old house at Marble Hill Inn

Betty BeanFeature, Inside 640

Once upon a time, Marble Hill Inn was “the house nobody wanted,” said innkeeper/resident owner Faith McDaniel, who has lived there almost 15 years and turned the big Arts and Crafts bungalow into a bed and breakfast two and a half years ago.


Faith McDaniel

The house at 125 East Glenwood Ave. was built in 1915 and was designed by architect Martin Parmalee, an early partner of George Barber, for the family of Samuel T. Buffat (son of Buffat Mill owner Alfred Buffat). There was a lot of work to be done, but the house had such good bones that McDaniel knew that restoring it would be worthwhile (it’s undergone seven restorations).

Seven restorations later, it’s now an Airbnb, and McDaniel is rated a superhost.

Porch at Marble Hill Inn.

“Over the years, the owners have been very kind to the house,” McDaniel said. “But the last owner became ill and couldn’t afford to maintain it the way it should have been.”

That last owner was country/bluegrass singer Danny Bailey, who was best known for his longtime TV gig on Cas Walker’s Farm and Home Hour (and his “Do your grocery shopping” solo line on the show’s theme song).

Leaded crystal front door detail

The house has three rooms to let – two upstairs and a two-bedroom basement suite for guests who prefer more privacy. Faith specializes in gourmet breakfasts – smoked salmon and asparagus eggs benedict, Mexican brunch burrito, banana waffles – with modifications for guests with special dietary requirements.

McDaniel is a licensed optician who successfully took over her family business – Andes Optical, but she’s an artist at heart and by training (she studied fine arts at UT). She juggled both jobs for a while, but she has more time to pursue her art now that she’s a full-time innkeeper.

“I sold (the family business) three and a half years ago. The optician they have there is super competent,” she said. “I was stretched pretty thin, and this is way more fun.”

She said she hosts lots of “creatives,” and she loves interacting with her guests, particularly the Salome’ Cabaret Burlesque Revue, which books up the house for the Smoky Mountain Burlesque Fest.

In September, the house becomes theirs,” McDaniel said. “I really look forward to that.”

She said Knoxville is a “murder porn” hub for filming true crime TV shows, and she has hosted NBC, Lifetime TV and Arrow Media.

She said she’s had no problems with the neighbors, whom she always kept informed of her plans.

“You just talk to your neighbors,” she said. “Everybody’s been super cool about it.”

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