Tennessee’s Ten Most Endangered Historic Properties of 2015
Nashville, TN (October 30, 2015) – The Tennessee Preservation Trust (TPT) announced Thursday its annual list of most threatened historic Tennessee sites, including the Bonnie Kate Theater in Elizabethton, Memphis’ Marine Hospital, and Nashville’s Hillsboro Village.
“The Ten in Tenn are the ten most endangered historic properties in Tennessee. Our listing them raises public awareness and helps local groups in their efforts to raise funding to preserve them for future generations,” said Dr. Charles Womack, TPT Board Chair.
Since 2001, the list has been released annually to raise public awareness of Tennessee’s endangered historic resources and give credibility to restoration efforts accross the state. Of the 110 previously listed properties, close to half have been saved or are in the process of being protected/rehabilitated and many have received grants for restoration.
“Ten in Tenn provides an opportunity for education and action. We want to inform the public about endangered historic structures that have significance for a specific place or the entire state/nation. Once the public knows why this building or that is important, we want them to embrace that history and urge them to join us in preserving these treasures for futher generations,” said Dr. Michael Birdwell, TPT Board Vice Chair.
Each year TPT accepts nomination from the public from which a panel of judges, each with unique preservation-related expertise, evaluates and selects ten properties that best represent the state’s most endangered. This year’s statewide panel includes Scott Taylor from Cleveland, Susan Sills from Covington, David Clark from Franklin, and Byron Pugh from Nashville.
Criteria for listing parallels nationwide standards set by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Eligible properties include historically and architecturally significant sites in need of immediate action to stop or reverse serious threats.
The list was announded at a specail evening event at the Atheaeum Rectory in Columbia Tennessee – one of 14 sites owned by the Association for the Preservation of Tennesse Antiquities (APTA). The Athenaeum was listed on TPT’s 2014 “Ten in Tenn” most endangered and has since received grant funding for restoration. Prior to the announcement program, the site hosted exclusive tours and Adam Southern, former chapter President of the APTA, sharked about the recent and upcoming on-site restoration work.
The 2015 “Ten in Tenn” Listing as follows:
Franklin Masonic Hall 115 2nd Avenue South, Franklin, TN
The Historic Frankling Masonic Hall was completed in 1826 and is listed as a National Historic Landmark. It is one of the only surviving examples of early Gothic Revival architecture in Middle Tennessee and remains the oldest Masonic Hall to still reside in its original location. The hall served as a field hospital during the Civil War and army barracks for Union troops in addition to serving as the meeting place for Andrew Jackson and the Chickasaw Indians, which led to the treaty and the Trail of Tears. Still occupied by the Hiram Masonic Lodge No. 7, the group has actively sought education and funding for the preservation and restoration of the building, but does not have the funds for necessary structural repairs. Multiple addistion made the structure in 1856 and 1914 altered the stability of the walls, which has cause severe structural damage.
Bonnie Kate Theater 115 S. Sycamore St., Elizabethton, TN
The Bonnie Kate Theater from 1926 is the last surviving movie house in Elizabethton and both part of the local Elizabethton Historic District and the National Register Historic District. It embodies the distinctive archtiectural characteristics of theaters built during the 1920s and fully sat houses up to 500. Unchecked roof deterioration has led to multiple leaks and subsequent water damager. Despite strong community and local government interest to save the building, no action has been taken by the building owners to make necessary repairs or correct the damage cause by the leaks.
Hillsboro Village 21st Ave South (between Blakemore Avenue & Acklen Ave), Nashville, TN
Hillsboro Village is on of Nashville’s few remaining neighborhood commercial corridors from the early twentieth century with the character of on of America’s great Main Streets. The surrounding residential neighborhood is listed as a National Register Historic Distirct and the corridor currently serves as a thriving commercial anchor for both the neighborhood and the Belmont and Vanderbilt Unversity communities. Although it still maintains much of its 1920s historic charm, rapid growth has led to multiple teardowns, major renovation projects, and an incresed push for high-rise development that together is destroying any sense of the historic streetscap that ties the community together. For these same reason, local preservation group Historic Nasville, Inc. placed Hillsboro Village on its annual list of most endagered Nashville sites in 2012. Sparked in part by the rampant demolition of historic neighborhood commercial buildings like those in Hillsboro Village, TPT listed the entire city of Nashville on their 2014 “Ten in Tenn” list.
Johns-King House 845 Old Jefferson Pike, Smyrna, TN
The Johns-King House was built in 1807 and has long been recognized as a local landmark. The history of property is strongly rooted in the Civil War, with association to the Battle of Stones River and Union occupations from 1862 to the end of the war. The home also bore witness to the Trail of Tears and is one of only a small handful of 19th century structures stil standing associated with the historic trek. Since 1998, the home has suffered years of neglect and the owner has been unsuccessful in selling the property to a preservation-sensitive buyer.
Antoinette Hall 105 N. 1st St., Pulaski, TN
Antoinette Hall, also known as Pulaski Opera House, was built in 1868 and is one of few remaining second story opera houses still intact in the United States as well as one of the oldest. Since 2008, local non-profit Southern Tennessee Area Arts Repertory (STAAR) has owned the property and worked to raise awareness for the historic structure. However the group does not have the funds for extensive restoration work needed to save the building. Weather and time has caused severe deterioration of the structure and the walls are currently being held together by a cable system.
Niota Depot 201 E. Main St., Niota, TN
Originally known as the Mouse Creek Depot, the Niota Depot was constructed in 1854 as part of the East Tennessee and Georgia Railroad. It is part of the earliest development of railroads in Tennessee and is the oldest still standing in the state with original gun ports used by both the Union and Confederate Armies during the Civil War. The building was listed on the Tennessee Preservation Trust’s 2009 “Ten in Tenn” list, after which it received the attention and repairs to consider the property saved. The in July 2015, a collapse of one of the chimneys caused a partial ceiling collapse and the building was subsequently condemned. Home to Niota City Hall, the City of Niota currently does not have the necessary funds to repair the damage. If the building ins not reoccupied by the city, it will be forfeited back to the railroad and likely torn down.
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Corner of Hasson & Kyle Streets, Rogersville, TN
St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, built in 1912, was the first “colored” Presbyterian Church in the Rogersville area and, according to a local historian, brought about an awakening to the dawn of a new age of equality in educational opportunity for all peoples. The community support has been overwhelming, providing manpower and monetary pledges for a small projects to put the building in a holding pattern to prevent further damage to it’s most valuable archtiectural features. Unfortuantely, the owndership committee does not have enough funds for the large-scale repairs of the roof and failing masonry foundation.
Marine Hospital 360 Metal Museum Dr., Memphis, TN
Built to treat soldiers as well as injured workers working on the area levees, the U.S. Marine Hospital buildings were originally built in the late 1800s. The current red-brick buildings, including the main 3-story Georgian style structure, replaced the originals in the 1930s and have stood vacant for over 15 years. Renovation of the buildings has been put on hold due to uncertainty of a nearby interstate realignment proposed over a decade and a half ago. Although the structures are sound, deterioration of the roofing, decking, windows and doors has caused significant damage as water is increasingly able to penetrate the buildings.
Blair’s Ferry Storehouse 800 Main St., Loudon, TN
The Blair’s Ferry Storehouse is one of the oldest remaining commercial buildings in East Tennessee and one of the regions’ earliest surviving examples of a structure built specifically as a warehouse. Built in 1835, the property is reflective of the early 19th century commerce along the Tennessee River. It was listed on the National Register in 1977 and much of the building’s architectural character remains intact. However, the current owner has limited funds to maintain the building and it is succumbing to deterioration and neglect.
Great Falls Mill Great Fall Road, Rock Island State Park, Rock Island, TN
The Great Falls Mill, built in 1892, is the last surviving legacy of the textile industry in South Central Tennessee. The building has been used for storage for the last 50 years and deterioration over the last 20 has compromised the building’s integrity. Owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority, the buidling is leased to the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation used by Rock Island State Park. However, bureaucracy, cost of repairs and lack of vision plan has left the landmark to deteriorate.
About the Tennessee Preservation Trust:
The Tennessee Preservation Trust (TPT) is a nonprofit taht works to preserve Tennessee’s diverse historic resources through education, advocacy, and collaborative partnerships. Headquartered in Nashville, TPT works to monitor and promote preservation friendly legislation, assists with perservation advocacy issues for local historic sites and districts, and hosts an annual Statewide Preservation Conference. For more information visit www.preservetn.org.