Following the July flood that inundated downtown Kingsport in two and three feet of water, Kingsport Ballet staff, volunteers, and hired hands went to work to extract, clean up, dry up and restore affected areas.
The Kingsport Ballet facility was renovated into the current arts center in July of 2010. The original building housed the Dixie Maid Bakery in the 1930s and 1940s, and various businesses since then.
Kingsport Ballet renovated over 15,000 square feet of space into five studios, spacious waiting areas, dressing rooms and offices, a wellness lounge and additional studios sublet to arts instructors. Some of the front rooms which serve as reception areas and waiting rooms were covered in old vinyl tile, which was repaired and cleaned but not replaced in 2010. The recent flood saturated the front half of the building under 2 inches of water and the vinyl tile became loose in areas and buckled in others.
Faced with various options for re-flooring, it was determined that the two layers of tile would need to come up to determine if ceramic tile, sealed concrete or other appropriate high-traffic flooring would be best in the approximately 900 square-foot area. In the process of removal, workers exposed large areas of original porcelain tile laid during the original construction of the bakery. The tile covers 90 percent of the floor affected.
During the 2010 renovations, some of the same tile was exposed in another area, but due to large spots of subfloor disrepair, only a small portion of the original tile was restored into a framed area about 4 feet by 10.
The recent flooding forced the exposure and subsequent restoration of the original hexagonal one-inch tile, typical during the 1930s and 1940s. Kingsport Ballet volunteers and staff have been stripping and cleaning the tile for several weeks in order to open doors for fall classes on Aug. 19.
In addition to restoring the waiting area floors, workers have repaired buckled subfloors in carpeted areas, ripped out and replaced base molding, repaired and patched walls that became wet during the flood and are replacing some furniture damaged by water.
The non-profit company — supported in part by the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Kingsport Community Foundation, the City of Kingsport and various area sponsors — is seeking donations to offset renovation and restoration efforts as a result of the flood. A T-shirt commemorating the restoration has been created, and will be for sale on the corner of Cherokee and Market streets on Saturday, Aug. 17, during a downtown celebration event, and at Kingsport Ballet after that. Proceeds will help offset renovation and restoration expenses.
Kingsport Ballet is funded for general operations by the Tennessee Arts Commission under an agreement with the National Endowment for the Arts. Outreach programs are funded in part by the City of Kingsport, the East Tennessee Foundation’s Arts Fund, the Funds for At-Risk Youth with the Tennessee Arts Commission, Holston Medical Group, among others.
For more information, call Kingsport Ballet at 378-3967 or visit www.kingsportballet.org.