Fire marshal OKs plans for Hale Springs Inn addition

Jeff Bobo • Jul 31, 2008 at 12:00 AM

ROGERSVILLE — It’s been six months since the partial collapse of the Hale Springs Inn’s rear 1870 addition that derailed the inn renovation in midstream.

Thanks to good news this week from the State Fire Marshal’s Office, however, there’s hope that work can soon resume on the project.

Earlier this week, the fire marshal approved drawings for a new addition at the rear of the original 1824 Hale Springs Inn. The Tennessee Historical Commission and the Rogersville Historical Preservation Commission had already approved the plans, which include using salvaged brick from the 1870 addition for the outer walls.

Rogersville Building Inspector Steve Nelson said the construction contractor is currently calculating an estimated cost for the new addition, as well as completing the overall renovation. Once those numbers are in, the Rogersville Heritage Association, which owns the inn, will make a decision on the next step — which is hopefully to complete the entire project with available funds including a $581,000 insurance settlement.

That’s what they’re shooting for, said Nelson, who is also a member of the RHA. The original plan prior to the collapse was to complete the renovation in two phases.

“One positive thing about the collapse of the addition is we hadn’t really started working on the addition yet, so the money for that is still there,” Nelson said. “Between the leftover funds and the insurance settlement, what we’d like to do is just get everything done at once and do away with phase two. The contractor should have a cost estimate in about a week, and we’ll decide how to proceed from there.”

The rear wall of the 1870 addition collapsed on Feb. 6, and the entire structure was later demolished due to safety concerns and the potentially astronomical cost of making repairs.

As opposed to the 1870 addition, which had three stories, the new addition will be what Nelson calls “a story and a half” with a basement and a stairway tower leading to the third floor of the main inn.

The new addition plan includes the restaurant’s kitchen on the first floor. The second level has substantially less square footage and will include the manager’s office, a small conference room and storage.

The original Hale Springs Inn was constructed in the Federal style of architecture, which contributes greatly to its historical value. The 1870 addition, however, had little architectural value, and to many people including Nelson it detracted from the main building.

Nelson said he believes the new addition will complement the original inn building more than the 1870 building.

“The old (rear) wing really took away from the Federal architecture of the original part, and this new building isn’t going to do that,” Nelson said. “Looking at it from the Courthouse Square, I guess you could say it’s going to look a little more Federal.”

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