Former Manhattan Project headquarters, Groves home damaged in fire

Luther Brannon Oak Ridge Turnpike House Fire

The historic Luther Brannon House was damaged, but no injuries were reported in this house fire on Oak Ridge Turnpike early Monday morning. Gen. Leslie R. Groves, commander of the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II, once lived here, and he had his headquarters in this single-story bungalow, which was built in 1941 and soon acquired by the federal government.


Note: This story was last updated at 1 p.m. July 8.

A historic house that once served as a home and headquarters for Gen. Leslie R. Groves during the top-secret Manhattan Project in World War II was heavily damaged in a fire early Monday morning.

No injuries were reported in the house fire, which was reported at 1:36 a.m. Monday.

The one-story stone bungalow at 151 Oak Ridge Turnpike is known as the Luther Brannon House, and it’s just west of Melton Lake Drive and next to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Scientific and Technical Information. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and it was the first home in Oak Ridge to be privately owned.

Oak Ridge Fire Department Chief Darryl Kerley said it appears that the Monday morning fire started in the kitchen. Owner Danny Brannon and his daughter were returning from a movie when they found the home on fire. They opened the front door and found the home filled with hot, black smoke, an ORFD press release said. Brannon opened the basement door to find that area clear, but he found fire coming from the kitchen window in the back of the house. The family called 911.

“We have not been able to determine what the cause is,” Kerley said. The Fire Department is waiting for an insurance company, which is sending an investigator and claims adjuster, before continuing its investigation. [Read more…]

AMSE summer camp registration under way

AMSE Summer Camp

Campers use a microscope during an AMSE Science Explorer summer camp at Freels Bend Cabin in Oak Ridge.

Parents of upcoming fifth, sixth and seventh graders can register their students now for the Science Explorer Camp conducted by the American Museum of Science and Energy in Oak Ridge.

AMSE educators will lead campers in a variety of science themed activities plus a tour of Oak Ridge National Laboratory and special presentations by ORNL researchers during the two weekly sessions offered June 10-14 and June 17-21 from 8 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Cost for the week of camp for AMSE members is $150 and non-members is $175.

Both one-week camp sessions, scheduled Monday through Friday, will be held at the Freels Bend Cabin site, where campers will study insects, habitats, water, life science, weather, geology, and fossils. Campers will also do activities and projects with flight, electricity, and robots. [Read more…]

Historic preservationists tour Freels Bend Cabin

ORHPA at Freels Bend Cabin

Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association member D. Ray Smith, left, starts a Thursday evening tour of Freels Bend Cabin, the oldest structure in Oak Ridge.

Built in 1844, the Freels Bend Cabin is the oldest structure in Oak Ridge, and Ruby Shanks lived there for a few years in the 1940s, when she was a teenager.

“It was a beautiful place,” Shanks told historic preservationists during a meeting at the cabin in south Oak Ridge last week. “We loved it.”

The unusual setting for last week’s Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association meeting gave about 60 people a rare opportunity to see the cabin, which is on restricted U.S. Department of Energy land.

[Read more…]

A chance to see Freels Bend Cabin, city’s oldest structure

Freels Bend Cabin

A nonprofit organization will have its monthly meeting at the Freels Bend Cabin on Thursday, a rare opportunity to see the oldest structure in Oak Ridge.

The regular monthly meeting of the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association is not unusual, but the location this week is.

The ORHPA will meet Thursday at Freels Bend Cabin, providing a rare opportunity to see the oldest structure in Oak Ridge.

Built in 1844, the cabin is on U.S. Department of Energy land, and access to it is normally restricted.

[Read more…]