However, the problems have been identified and with an informal nod of approval by the Board of Mayor and Aldermen this past week, work will begin soon to address these and other issues at the 60-year-old mansion.
Allandale Mansion was built in the early 1950s and donated to the city of Kingsport in 1969 after the death of its owner Harvey Brooks. The property includes the mansion, two barns, a picnic pavilion, two man-made ponds and the recent Heron Dome addition. A 2,000-square foot amphitheater is currently under construction behind the mansion.
Today, Allandale is used for 250 to 300 events each year, including weddings, parties, reunions, showers, receptions and galas. Numerous Fun Fest events have also been held on the grounds over the years.
During at least two BMA work sessions this summer, Mayor Dennis Phillips has raised the issue of the condition at Allandale, even once posing the question of whether Kingsport could keep its facilities from falling down. This week, Phillips admitted the mansion, of course, was not falling down.
But the mayor’s earlier questions about the mansion apparently got the response he desired, as city officials came before the BMA with an update on the mansion, what repairs and improvements have been made this year and what items are on the list to do by the end of the year.
According to Chris McCartt, assistant to the city manager, the colonnade at Allandale has been repaired and painted, failed sections of the concrete fence have been replaced, an aerator has been installed in one of the ponds and the gutters have been sealed. Some wood fencing along the road and behind the barn has also been replaced with vinyl fencing and columns along the back of the mansion, not properly prepped and primed, were painted by city crews.
“It’s like your home. It requires attention,” said Rod Gemayel, caretaker of the Allandale Mansion.
The biggest repair issue facing Allandale at this time is a hole recently discovered in the membrane of the roof.
“Back in November, we thought we had leaks in the gutters, so we sealed them. While we saw some problems resolved, we continued to have problems and thought the down spouts were clogged, so we addressed that,” McCartt said. “Spring came and we were still seeing water damage occur. That’s when we realized we had flashing that had to be replaced. As we worked through that process, we then discovered a hole in the membrane roof.”
Kingsport has identified a number of issues at the mansion in need of attention — the columns on the back colonnade, the concrete fencing, an aerator in the other pond and the railings on the back driveway. In the immediate future, Kingsport plans to repair the hole in the roof, the fascia, eave and cornice on the front portico, the flashing on the roof columns and paint where necessary.
“One section (of the front porch) was trucked to Kingsport and while we’ve done some painting and replaced the roof, we never got inside the front section and work has not been done on that section since it was constructed or put back on the mansion,” McCartt said.
Kingsport plans to enter into a $135,000 contract with local architect Allen Dryden and Armstrong Construction for this first phase of repairs. Dryden has volunteered his time and services for Allandale for years; his father originally designed the mansion while Armstrong Construction built it.
Allandale and city officials are planning to have the work done by the middle of November or first of December.
Allandale Mansion is owned and operated by the city of Kingsport and falls under the city’s Leisure Services Department. Two full-time employees work at the mansion and its annual budget is approximately $212,600. The average yearly revenue of the facility over the past five years has been $57,500.