On Feb. 6, a rear wall of the inn’s 1870 three-story addition fell, and subsequently the remainder of the building was razed, leaving only the original 1824 structure.
Aside from the additional cost of demolishing the building, and the lost time, there hasn’t been much regret expressed regarding the loss of the 1870 addition. It was often looked upon as an eyesore compared to the main inn and its federal style architecture.
The rear addition wasn’t even singled out in the National Register of Historic Places description of the Hale Springs Inn for any significant architectural or historical importance.
But the loss of the rear addition left officials with the problem of where to put the kitchen, which was going to be on the first floor of the building that’s now gone.
With the news of the settlement Thursday, Rogersville Heritage Association Director Patricia Humbert said the kitchen problem can be easily solved.
“Obviously a lot was riding on this settlement because up to now we had no kitchen,” Humbert said. “Now he have the money needed to construct a new kitchen annex, using the brick we saved from the other building, and hopefully come up with an aesthetically pleasing solution to this problem.”
Architect Michael Emrick had already provided the RHA conceptual plans for a new addition for the kitchen, and the RHA board of directors plans to meet Monday evening to finalize the plans and acquire cost estimates.
Humbert said the timeline is for Emrick to complete his drawings for the new building, as well as obtain plans from subcontractors, within three to four weeks.
Emrick will then submit the new plans for approval by the state fire marshal and the Tennessee Historical Commission, which is expected to take another two weeks — hopefully putting the project back on track within six weeks.
At this point, contractors have done all they can do with regards to phase one of the renovation until work begins in the new kitchen annex.
“(Emrick) has already got a real good looking conceptual plan,” Humbert said. “It will be connected to the main building, as the other was, because the kitchen will be in it, and it will have doors into the dining room. And then the new structure will have a door into the lobby as well that will lead into a small lobby where the elevator is.
“It will have a basement, which will provide good housing for our utilities and HVAC.”
Humbert said the wall falling on the old building, in her mind, was a blessing in disguise, partly because of the settlement and partly because of the timing.
“Imagine if we’d put more work into it and it had fallen down,” she said. “My god, what if we’d had people cooking in the kitchen and it fell down.”
The RHA owns the inn and is partnering with the city in the renovation and administration of grant and loan funding.