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State weighs bids offered for reclusive heiress's mansion, land

Eugenia Williams left the property on Lyons View Pike to UT after her death in 1998.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — State authorities are evaluating cash bids received to buy the long empty Eugenia Williams mansion and surrounding prime acreage on Lyons View Pike.

With formal closure Oct. 4 of the bidding process, the state has 45 days to make a decision on the bids, according to David Roberson, director of the Office of Communications for the state's Department of General Services.

Roberson said he couldn't comment on how many sealed bids were submitted or from whom. Sale of the house at 4848 Lyons View Pike includes an easement sparing its destruction.

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Tiffany Carpenter, associate vice president for communications and marketing for the University of Tennessee System, said as of Oct. 2 that bids came in under appraisal. All bidders were asked to submit their best and final offer.

The State of Tennessee Real Estate Asset Management handled the property review and bidding. Two showings were held in September.

A Knox County chancellor cleared the way this summer for sale of the Williams estate, which includes 24 acres with lakefront access. UT tried for years without luck to find a use for it consistent with the heiress's wishes.

Williams built the 10,800-square-foot home in 1940 and lived in it 43 years. She moved out in the early 1980s to spend her final years in the care of nuns at the old St. Mary's hospital in North Knoxville.

She wanted to honor her father, David Hitt Williams, and help the university with her bequest. UT is pledging to put sale proceeds toward scholarships for needy students.

UT offered the property for sale for cash and "as is". The state reserved the right to refuse any and all bids.

When Eugenia died in February 1998, she bequeathed the house to UT. Photo by Elizabeth Sims.

The house has been empty for decades and needs extensive repairs.

One condition of the sale: The property can be split into no more than two parcels.

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