Preservationists are concerned as federal officials seek public comment on the possibility of moving out of a historic building that is one of the few World War II-era buildings remaining on main roads in Oak Ridgeâ€”and possibly the only one left on Illinois Avenue.
The Atmospheric Turbulence and Diffusion Division, or ATDD, of the Air Resources Laboratory, which is part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is now at 456 South Illinois Avenue. Itâ€™s just north of Ole Ben Franklin Motors and across from new shopping centers on the other side of South Illinois Avenue.
During World War II, the single-story white building was an emergency hospital to serve federal plants. Oak Ridge was built in the mid-1940s, during the war, to help make the worldâ€™s first nuclear weapons as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project, and it enriched uranium for the first atomic bomb used in wartime.
After the war, the building, which is now owned by NOAA, was used as the cityâ€™s health department, said Mick Wiest of the Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association, or ORHPA.
Wiest said the building is well-maintained, and itâ€™s received a historic preservation award from ORHPA. [Read more…]