Saving history: county commission to consider $30,000 for historic sites' preservation

J. H. Osborne • Mar 19, 2017 at 2:47 PM

BLOUTVILLE —  The Sullivan County Commission is being asked to make sure the county’s maintenance department has enough money in its budget to take care of the several historic buildings the county owns and which make up the heart of the Blountville Historic District.

A resolution, sponsored by Commissioner Dennis Houser, seeks to establish a fund for maintenance and repair of historic sites owned by the county, including the Old Deery Inn & Museum, Rutledge House, Anderson Townhouse, the old Sheriff's Home, "and ancillary dependency structures on the gorunds of the Deery Inn that make up the heart of the Historic District surrounding the courthouse."

Currently, Houser said last week, the Sullivan County Maintenance Department maintains the structures — but does not have a designated funding source in the maintenance budget for routine maintenance or periodic repairs specifically for the historic sites.

Houser's resolution notes the buildings in question have suffered from rain and weather damage over the years due to lack of exterior maintenance and lack of resources — and the Deery Inn has not been repainted since restoration improvements completed under Phase 1 of a Tennessee Department of Transportation Enhancement Grant awarded in 2002. The Rutledge House only has a primer coat of paint on it from that grant project, Houser said.

The Old Deery Inn and the Anderson Townhouse each are on the National Register of Historic Places.

According to "Historic Sites of Sullvain County" (compiled by Muriel C. Spoden and published by the Sullivan County Historical Assocation in 1976):

• The front section of the Anderson Townhouse is an "orginal 1792/1795 dwelling" of "hand hewn log."

• The townhouse was used as a "home-while-in-town by the first Blountville Town Commissioners, John Anderson, George Maxwell, and Richard Gammon. Colonel John Anderson lived the greatest distance from Blountville and was the most frequent resident in the townhouse."

• Anderson's "plantation home, called The Blockhouse, was a famous stopping place on the Great Wilderness Road to Kentucky. His land straddled the Virginia-Tennessee line north of Kingsport."

• By 1955, the next-door Blountville United Methodist Church owned the townhouse. In 1974 the church sold it to the county "to be preserved for all time" and a grant from the American Revolution Bicentennial Commission was matched by donations from individuals, organizations and businesses to fund a restoration.

• The Sullivan County Commission is scheduled to meet at 9 a.m., Monday, March 20 on the second floor of the historic Sullivan County Courthouse (nextdoor to the Old Deery Inn and within sight of the Anderson Townhouse and its "Help save this historic building" sign.

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