Raze or Save

Jeff Bobo @ Times-News Reports: Rogersville Building Inspector Steve Nelson met a structural engineer at the Hale Springs Inn site Wednesday along with several contractors, who are waiting to find out what their next move will be.

Nelson told the Times-News afterward that the engineer will present his findings to the project architect this morning to determine if the 1870 addition can be saved or should be razed.

The general consensus of those who met with the engineer Wednesday evening, including Nelson and lead contractor Glen Courtney, is that the addition is too far gone to save. The remaining walls of the addition swayed in the wind much of the day, and those who witnessed it said it’s not a matter of if the rest of the addition will fall, but when it will fall.

“As long as the wind isn’t blowing, I’m not too worried about it,” Courtney said. “If we get strong winds, I wouldn’t want to be standing in it.”

If the engineer and architect determine that the addition can’t be saved, Nelson said he will contact the Tennessee Historical Preservation Commission about holding an emergency meeting to give permission to raze the structure as soon as possible.

Courtney noted that time is of the essence in getting a final decision because if the structure is to be razed some new plans must be arranged. The addition was going to be used mainly for conference rooms, but the first floor of the structure was to be the new location of the kitchen.

RHA President Dr. Eddie Abernathy also visited the site Wednesday night anxious to hear the engineer’s final report. Although the collapse is another dark cloud on the project, Abernathy was quick to find the silver lining. “This might be a good thing because I’d hate to have had that new kitchen installed and then the wall fall down,” Abernathy said. “And thank God it happened at night when no one was standing there or we could be dealing with a real tragedy. If we find out we can’t save that structure we’ve got to find a new place for the kitchen, but we can take it back to the original design and it still might work out OK for us.

“We’ve run into so many pitfalls on the project so far, we’re kind of used to it. This is just one more, but we’re going to keep moving forward.”

Abernathy joked that if worse comes to worst, they can sell souvenir Hale Springs Inn bricks. An insurance adjuster from Nationwide was on site Wednesday night as well, but there was no decision yet on what — if any — claim can be made from the collapse. The insurance adjuster did, however, put up all the occupants of the next-door apartment building in a hotel just in case the side walls fall onto the neighboring building.

Nelson noted that the 1870 addition was not constructed nearly as well as the original 1824 building.

“The original structure is a perfect example of federal architecture,” Nelson said. “The 1870 wing wasn’t built well, the design wasn’t right, and it never went with the original building at all. When the previous owner Carl Netherland-Brown renovated it in 1982, he and I sat in the front room in front of the fireplace many a night discussing whether the addition should come off of it so we could restore the main part back to its original beauty because it’s just an awesome piece of work.


8 thoughts on “Raze or Save

  1. Well that is good news. More parking for downtown!

    But seriously my real concern was that they would entertain raising our property taxes again to front the the $10 million they would need to bring their private playhouse up to code.

  2. Yes, that’s mine. I moved to WordPress about a year ago and do not update the original blog.

    I wasn’t aware city property taxes had increased and thought they used reserve funds to avoid this in `07. Did I miss something? (Quite often, I do.)


  3. Kandy:
    I think county/city increases have gotten confused here – as is often the case. And honestly, some of the county projects, I’m not entirely comfortable with – but the Inn, I am behind 100% and will not explain why – as I’ve done this so many times the thought of doing it again makes me tired.

    However, I find the constant misconceptions about the project, the plans, the cost, the management all interesting – and extremely frustrating too.

    I have a basic time line of the project on this blog:

    The information contained therein is factual and has been substantiated by state department, various forms of documentation and those individuals involved – and I did talk to most of those who made this happen. Sen. Mike Williams is the only person I could not nail down.

    Now, assuming all information is accurate, based on this time line: I’d love to sit down with those people, who do not support the project or do but question the actions of the town’s administration: present the facts and simply ask – what would you do differently?

    The answers might shock `em.

  4. I have more issues with county project disasters than city as well. I am not a fan of the current administration as a whole and have made no secret of that although the Inn project has little to do with it.

    I am for saving the Inn and always have been. I would love to see downtown revitalized. I would love to see more tourism and would be absolutely tickled pink to see this town move forward even in small steps.

    There has been no effort that I have seen in the three years that I have been here to involve the citizens in any project. Not the main street program not the Inn.. nothing. It seems to me that only the select few are welcome to be a part of anything and the general public isn’t wanted nor needed. I think this attitude is a huge mistake on their part and part of the reason they get so little support.

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