Saturday, January 02, 2010

January 2, 2010 Todd Morgan, Morristown Planning Dept, Nominates Morristown College for Historic Preservation

The Knoxville News-Sentinel recently ran an article on the nomination of the Morristown College site to a list of endangered, historical buildings in East Tennessee--East Tennessee's Endangered Heritage.

Todd Morgan, a member of the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance and City of Morristown Economic Development employee, made the nomination. The article is here.

Sadly, the City of Morristown passed up the opportunity to acquire this site many years ago when preservation would have been more feasible and economical than it is now. Unfortunately, the current owner has done little or nothing to maintain or develop the site.

The Morristown College site, overlooking the city, is beautiful. After 15 years of neglect, however, many of the buildings are in a state of complete disrepair and the other buildings would be far more costly to renovate today than would have been the case years ago.

The site would have been a beautiful, central location for the Morristown City Center and related operations. Not to mention providing a wonderful location for a community center at some point in time with the added advantage of preserving an important part of Morristown's historical heritage.

However, instead of acquiring the Morristown College land and renovating one of the existing buildings for a city center, the City tore down its City Hall at the northeast corner of Henry and Cumberland, paved over that land, and then spent $10-11 million dollars on a new and lavish City Center a few hundred feet away.

Tearing down historical buildings is not exactly new for the City and County.  Allowing demolition of the downtown train depot is one of the most unfortunate examples of a failure to appreciate and preserve the history of this area. [If my recollection is correct, the city is now discussing plans to erect a "replica" of the old train depot at Fred Miller Park.  Nothing like tearing down the real thing and erecting a replica years later.]

And there's nothing like building a fancy, schmancy new City Center instead of renovating a historical building on a beautiful hilltop site that has room for all kinds of parking and expansion.   

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