ROGERSVILLE — Maintaining 200-year-old buildings can be very expensive, but at least one day per year a little bit of salad can go a long way toward preserving Rogersville’s history.
On Monday, the Rogersville Heritage Association will host its annual Salad Luncheon fundraiser at one of its two historic facilities, the 197-year-old Hale Springs Inn.
The cost is $10 per lunch and can be dine-in, carryout, or eaten outside on the patio.
Dine-in customers will see that the inn, which was restored in 2009, continues to be well-maintained and the gem of historic downtown Rogersville.
What they won’t be able to see, however, is recently discovered cracks in the outer brick wall that have started allowing some rain inside, causing a bit of water damage upstairs.
Many projects already on the RHA’s plate
Rogersville building inspector Steve Nelson, who also oversees the RHA’s historic restoration and maintenance projects, said the repairs won’t be terribly extensive or expensive. But, with so many projects already on the RHA’s plate, another repair job wasn’t what they needed.
The RHA is also planning an HVAC project at the inn, as well as an exterior lighting installation at Crockett Springs Park, which is also owned by the RHA.
That park contains a small cemetery that is the final resting place of Davy Crockett’s grandparents, who were killed in an Indian attack there in 1777. That same cemetery is also the final resting place of Rogersville founder Joseph Rogers.
The biggest project currently on the RHA to-do list, however, is the restoration of the historic Rogers Tavern, which is the larger of two taverns that were built side by side by Joseph Rogers between 1790 and 1800. Both are located on present-day Rogers Street adjacent to Crockett Springs Park.
Restored to its 1800 log building appearance
Among the dignitaries who stayed at Rogers Tavern were William Clark of Lewis and Clark fame and President Andrew Jackson.
Nelson told the Times News on Wednesday that the RHA plan is to eliminate an addition at the rear of the tavern that was built around 1900, remove all of the siding, and take the tavern back to its original 1800 appearance.
In 2019, Tennessee state historian Dr. Carroll Van West visited Rogersville and toured various historical locations, including the Rogers Tavern.
West stated in his report released last year that the tavern has the elements necessary to be restored to its 1800 log building appearance. The tavern is also unique in that it is one of only five surviving buildings where either Meriwether Lewis or William Clark spent the night.
During West’s 2019 visit, a section of siding was removed to expose the condition of the tavern’s original log exterior. They discovered a standard dovetail notch, and the original chinking was mostly intact.
Nelson noted that the ground has apparently risen on the north side of the house above the stone foundation, exposing some of the bottom logs to termites and moisture. As a result, some of those logs will have to be replaced, but it appears that damage is limited to only one area.
The original stone chimney is also gone and will have to be rebuilt.
”Hopefully, we’re going to get grants to do this”
Unfortunately, there are no known drawings of what that fireplace and the original tavern looked like, so they’ll have to make their best guess based on the style of that era.
West indicated that the ground floor where the bar was located, and the second floor, where the guests slept, were both just one big room.
“This is where William Clark stayed, and Andrew Jackson,” Nelson noted. “This is where the corn crib incident happened. (Another guest) criticized the accommodations, because this would have had just one big sleeping room with pallets on the floor. This fellow wanted his own private room, so Andrew Jackson gave it to him, out in the corn crib.”
After it ceased being a tavern, the building became a standard residence, with walls, plumbing and electric installed.
Nelson said all of that has got to go, but he is hesitant to give an estimate on the cost, at least until all exterior siding is removed and he sees how many logs have to be replaced. But he’s guessing that with demolition it will cost close to $100,000 to get the tavern back to its 1800 condition.
“The reason for the Salad Luncheon is, hopefully, we’re going to get grants to do this, but grants are never 100%,” Nelson said. “There’s always a match, so we need to have money set aside to be able to take care of the match.”
The Salad Luncheon will be on Monday, April 12, from 11 a.m. — 1:30 p.m. at the Hale Springs Inn. Call (423) 272-1961 for more information.