Last summer, work began on a new, outdoor amphitheater located behind the Allandale Mansion beside the Heron Dome. The 2,000-square-foot theater includes a permanent, tiered stage with a 10- to 14-foot backdrop wall, dressing rooms and sound and lighting system.
The Friends of Allandale, a volunteer organization that seeks to improve and enhance the mansion and its grounds, has been working on and fund-raising for the project over the past five years. The nonprofit has raised just over $250,000 for this first phase of the project.
Fred Wallin, vice president of the organization, said the amphitheater should be ready to open and stage events this summer.
“We have some landscaping left to do and some finishing work in the dressing rooms. It’s almost done,” Wallin said. “We’re pretty proud of what we’ve been able to do, to contribute to the community in partnership with the city. I think it’s absolutely gorgeous and above what I expected.”
Once complete, the amphitheater will be able to accommodate 1,500 to 2,000 attendees (on blankets and folding chairs in the sloping field) with musical performances both small and large. Other potential uses for the new amenity could be by private functions such as weddings, anniversaries, reunions and birthday parties, professional performances, school performances, church events and movie series.
Though Friends of Allandale has raised just over $250,000 for the project, the estimated cost is $326,000. In a memo, the nonprofit states additional fund-raising efforts could include a second direct mail campaign to potential donors, a raffle at the group’s July meeting and a request to the city’s Visitors Enhancement Fund for the second and third installments of pledged money.
The Visitors Enhancement Program advisory council agreed to support the amphitheater project in 2010 with $33,000 a year over three years if Friends of Allandale could raise $550,000 for the overall project. The BMA later changed the amount to $30,000 with a promise to consider additional funding.
“We’re very close. We have some of the money, we have our operating fund and we expect to do several more (fundraising campaigns) with community organizations,” Wallin said, noting that the nonprofit needs about another $66,000 to cover the project.
Some of the contributions have been in-kind donations. Kingsport architect Allen Dryden Jr., whose father designed the Allandale Mansion, volunteered his skills to design the amphitheater. Other in kind contributions have come from Vic Davis Construction (excavation work), Holston Engineering (electrical designs), Armstrong Construction and Appalachian Lighting and Productions (sound and lighting designs).
As for the other work taking place at Allandale Mansion, Kitty Frazier, parks and recreation manager, said the renovations are about 80 percent complete and should be done by the end of February, weather permitting.
Last summer, Mayor Dennis Phillips raised the issue of the condition of Allandale Mansion at two BMA work sessions, and while some work had taken place on the grounds earlier in the year, city officials identified additional repairs that were needed. Issues identified included repairing a hole in the roof, the fascia, eave and cornice on the front portico, the flashing on the roof columns and paint where necessary.
“The work is about 80 percent done. There’s a little bit of flashing left, some painting and we’re also going to paint the brown house on the back, but the primary structure is done,” Frazier said.
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.
In all, about $150,000 worth of repairs have been done at Allandale within the past 12 months.
“It needed it, just like any facility needs ongoing care and attention,” Frazier said.