KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Each year the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance presents a list of the most endangered heritage sites in the region. Their goal is to bring attention to those threatened heritage assets and encourage property owners and communities to develop preservation strategies for saving them.
Knoxville Heritage said there are several places that have dropped off last year’s list, including the Alexander Inn and Guest house in Oak Ridge and Arrowmont in Gatlinburg, which are no longer threatened.
Three new locations added to the list are Historic Downtown Dandridge, Old Jefferson City Hall in Jefferson County and Oliver Springs’ Southern Railroad Depot. Others on the list include New Salem Baptist Church in Sevierville, Tennessee Military Institute in Sweetwater, Tanner School in Newport, Stonecipher-Kelly House in Morgan County and Magnet Mills in Clinton.
Historic preservation is important. There are proven benefits to property owners, neighborhoods and entire cities. It is an essential tool for creating places with a high quality of life, stable property values and tourism appeal. The preservation movement no longer relies on faith alone to explain why saving our heritage is beneficial to the greater good. There is now conclusive data proving it is a strategy that works. Community leaders and property owners need to be aware of this before more of our historic places are lost forever.
1. Historic Downtown Dandridge – Jefferson County (New for 2016)
“Dandridge appears to be at a significant crossroads,” said the East Tennessee Preservation Society. They said Dandridge has been noted for its preservation efforts, but in the last couple of years several buildings have been abandoned downtown.
There is a growing concern in Dandridge about proposals to relocate the Jefferson County Courhouse away from Downtown Dandridge and the historic courthouse due to maintenance demands, according to the group. They said the Jefferson County Board of Education already has to vacate the jail that sits adjacent to the courthouse due to mold issues and the Dandridge School has been on the East Tennessee Endangered Heritage list since 2012 and there is still no long-term plan for saving the structure.
Also, East Tennessee Preservation Society said the Roper Tavern, built in 1812 has been on the Endangered Heritage list since 2014. They said the building had some recent cosmetic improvements, but there is still much concern about the overall structural integrity.
2. Old Jefferson City Hall– Jefferson County (New for 2016)
The Old Jefferson city Hall, built in 1868, has had many uses over the years. In 1882, the site became the community’s first public school and in 1904 space city offices and later the City Hall were moved into the building.
The East Tennessee Preservation Society said since the City hall relocated in 1989 a portion of the building has been used by the Masonic Lodge. They said age, lack of maintenance and water damage have contributed to its current condition which is still stable. The roof has not been replaced since the 1950’s and needs repair.
“The current owners are not able to make repairs and have a desire to sell the property,” said the East Tennessee Preservation Society. “The new owner who will redevelop the property into a beneficial use for the community should be found soon.”
3. Oliver Springs Southern Railroad Depot – Roane County (New for 2016)
Built in 1893, the East Tennessee Preservation Society said the Oliver Springs Depot, which currently olds the city’s library and museum, needs new paints and roof repairs.
“The town has little funding to make repairs and it is the only library and source for internet connection for many citizens. Time is of the essence,” said the East Tennessee Preservation Society. “Repairs need to be made to ensure the structure has a future in the community.”
4. New Salem Baptist Church – Sevierville, Sevier County
The New Salem Renovation Task Force is spearheading efforts to save the New Salem Baptist Church, which was built in 1886 by Isaac Dockery.
The original bell tower and pulpit furniture have been removed and the overall interior has been altered significantly. Even with these changes, the church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2003, and a Tennessee Historical marker was placed on the grounds in 2006.
The East Tennessee Preservation Society said the Dockery Family Association has been working with the East Tennessee Community Design Center, the African American Heritage Alliance, and ETPA to find a long term preservation solution for the building that would preserve the legacy of the building and the contributions of the congregation.
5. Former Tennessee Military Institute – Sweetwater, Monroe County
Established in 1974, the former Sweetwater Military College building was closed in 2007 and the East Tennessee Preservation Society said the property has suffered because the current owner of the property has had a disbute with the city of Sweetwater on the amount of taxes owed.
“That dispute has been settled, but there are roof and other stabilization issues that need to be addressed by the current owner as well as the development of a long-tern vision for its redevelopment,” said the historic preservation society. “The buildings are empty and without power. The structures exhibit visible damage from neglect and vandalism.”
6. Tanner School – Newport, Cocke County
The City of Newport owns the Tanner School, which was built in 1924. The East Tennessee Preservation Society said historic school has grown to support community organizations and outreach programs.
In April 2011, the school received significant roof damage from a tornado. Eventually, the roof was replaced, but the preservation society said there was significant water and mold damage that occurred inside the building.
“Due to the hazardous nature of the mold, the organizations were asked to move out of the building and its future became uncertain,” said the East Tennessee Preservation Society. They said the city of Newport and the Tanner Prseervation Alliance have worked to help restore and preserve the building, but additional funding is needed for repairs.
7. Stonecipher-Kelly House – Morgan County (near Wartburg)
The Stonecipher-Kelly House was built around 1814 by the first permanent white settlers in that area, as part of a Revolutionary War land-grant. In February 2013, the house and property was added to Frozen Head State Park, however it is currently not being used and the preservation society said there is no plan for how to use it in the future.
“Local preservationists would like to the House added to the National Register of Historic Places and ensure proper repairs are made. There also should be an effort to firmly define how it will become part of the state park experience and used as a heritage asset for the community,” said the East Tennessee Preservation Society.
8. Magnet Mills – Clinton, Anderson County
Currently abandoned, the East Tennessee Preservation Society said the former Magnet Mill suffers from neglect and decay.
East Tennessee Preservation Society said the City of Clinton may try to condemn the property because the current property owner is out of state.
“ETPA feels potential developers are not responding because of the current price. The owner needs to adjust pricing to appeal to a local developer willing to take on redevelopment. Any demolition needs to be as controlled as possible to save as much of the original character as possible,” said the East Tennessee Preservation Society.