June 22, 2012
Rubeus Hagrid hired to keep grounds of UT president's house
The former keeper of keys and grounds at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in Scotland will soon be moving to the Sequoyah Hills neighborhood of Knoxville.
A friendly half-giant named Rubeus Hagrid has been hired by the University of Tennessee's Board of Trustees Finance and Administration Committee to look after the property until it can be sold.
Located at 940 Cherokee Blvd., the sizeable Georgian-style home has been empty for two years. The 11,400-square-foot house was placed on the market in March 2010 at a price of $5 million. It has been reduced to its current cost of $2.9 million. Five former UT presidents have lived in on the waterfront property.
Residents of Sequoyah Hills say they are uneasy about the new resident.
"We've had an excellent relationship with the university," said James Davis, who has lived on Cherokee Blvd. for 20 years. "But this makes us a little uncomfortable. We love animals. My wife and I have a dog ourselves. But enormous, sentient spiders and three-headed dogs give us pause."
Mindy Rifenburg, president of the Kingston Pike Sequoyah Hills Association, added, "I know neighborhood organizations get a bad rap. We're just here to make sure that our residents are safe, to preserve property values and to promote a sense of community. I'm just not sure that introducing a Norwegian Ridgeback dragon to the neighborhood is the best way to do that. Surely a fire breathing dragon with poisonous fangs is going to bump up against codes enforcement."
University officials say they spend $25,000 annually to maintain the home. But Hagrid would keep costs down. The half-giant has agreed to live on the property for free. In exchange he would get to keep both magical and East Tennessee wildlife on the grounds. Forestry and Animal Science majors at UT would also be allowed to interact with Hagrid's magical menagerie.
"I think it's great," said Sequoyah Hills resident Donna Hoover. "We've got the park, obviously, but we're always saying that Sequoyah Hills could use a little more culture. Surely a hippogriff would be a unique learning experience for our kids."
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