Note: This story was updated at 3:37 p.m.
The Alexander Inn, a historic Oak Ridge hotel being converted into an assisted living center, has been removed from an annual list of endangered places in East Tennessee.
The East Tennessee Preservation Alliance announced its 2014 East Tennessee’s Endangered Heritage on Monday in Knoxville. The list includes endangered historic buildings and places in a 16-county region.
The Alexander Inn, also known as the Guest House, had previously been on the list, which includes Magnet Mills in Clinton.
“ETPA was excited to remove the Alexander Inn from the list this year as construction continues in earnest on the new Guest House Alexander Inn Assisted Living Facility,” a press release said.
Top military leaders and scientists once stayed at this historic two-story hotel in the heart of Oak Ridge. A $5.5 million renovation of the Alexander Inn at Jackson Square started in July, the culmination of a years-long preservation effort, and it could be complete by mid-2014.
The hotel was built during the Manhattan Project, a top-secret federal program to build the world’s first atomic bombs during World War II. Guests who once stayed there included Gen. Leslie Groves, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and physicists J. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi.
ETPA said the Arrowmont School Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg was also removed from its 2014 Endangered Heritage list.
“After years of uncertainty, Arrowmont is very close to reaching their fundraising goal that will allow them to purchase and protect the historic campus, thanks in large part to private and public donations,” ETPA said in the press release. “That being said, they have not yet reached the goal that must be met at the end of March, so contributions are still critical to the future of Arrowmont.”
Here is the 2014 East Tennessee’s Endangered Heritage List:
- Magnet Mills in Clinton. Magnet Mills dates back to 1906 and was a thriving business for years before the owners closed it in 1967 after a lengthy strike by employees. Since then, it was briefly used in the 1980s by two businesses but has been vacant since. A plan to redevelop the property was mothballed in 2008 when the economic downturn began.
- Roper Tavern in Dandridge
- Former Tennessee Military Institute in Sweetwater
- Stonecipher-Kelly-McCartt House in Morgan County
- Old Post Office in LaFollette
- The Tanner Cultural Center in Newport
- Abandoned rural schoolhouses across entire region
- Morristown College in Morristown
- Historic Dandridge School in Dandridge
- Central Business District of Lenoir City
- Brushy Mountain State Correctional Complex in Morgan County
- Neglected cemeteries across entire region
- New Salem Baptist Church in Sevierville
- Oak Grove School in Sharps Chapel
This year’s list included many from previous years because the organization keeps places on the list until the site is either saved, lost, or does not merit inclusion for a variety of reasons.
This marks the fifth list of endangered historic places selected by the ETPA board of directors from nominations received from members and the general public. Preservation strategies are developed for each site on the list and can include working with current property owners, government officials, citizens and/or potential new owners to preserve these important parts of East Tennessee’s heritage, the release said. In some cases, ETPA will organize volunteer work days to help stabilize and protect sites.
East Tennessee Preservation Alliance partners with community leaders, organizations, and businesses across the region to find preservation solutions for the endangered properties identified for the annual list and encourage the communities across the region to join in efforts to save our endangered heritage.
The East Tennessee Preservation Alliance works to protect places and structures with historic or cultural significance in Anderson, Blount, Campbell, Claiborne, Cocke, Grainger, Hamblen, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Monroe, Morgan, Roane, Scott, Sevier, and Union counties. It is governed by a board of directors with representatives from across the region. ETPA carries out its mission through a variety of programs and encourages community support through education and advocacy. To get involved with ETPA’s advocacy efforts, call (865) 523-8008.
Harry Pruitt says
At one time the support beams for the Alexander were declared unsafe and it was suggested that the building was in danger of collapse.. I am curious to know if that little item has been corrected. Anyone know? Somehow I don’t think I would want to spend my last days there.
Philip W Nipper says
Sir, I recommend that you contact the Community Development Department at the City of Oak Ridge. They should be able to inform you of the work that required building permits and which have been inspected to date. If there were structural issues that required remediation, they would have a record of what was accomplished and the associated inspection results. I don’t think there is any need to be in fear of sub par construction or non conformance to building codes.
Harry Pruitt says
Thank you sir. It’s good to know that there is nothing to fear. 🙂
I apologize for the delayed response, but I was out of town quite a bit last week for the state basketball tournament and am still catching up.
If I recall correctly, the part of the building that was in question was the ballroom, and it has been demolished. See this June 2013 story: http://oakridgetoday.com/2013/06/06/alexander-inn-ballroom-demolished-as-renovation-work-begins/
A press release announcing the November 2013 groundbreaking said the building had been stabilized, although construction wouldn’t be completed until about the middle of this year: http://oakridgetoday.com/2013/11/12/alexander-inn-groundbreaking-press-conference-thursday/