Memorial building delayed

Jeremy Nash

Renovations to the War Memorial Building in downtown Lenoir City hit a snag because a planned new roof must meet National Register of Historic Places guidelines.

Completion of the project is now anticipated for the first part of November, Steve Harrelson, Lenoir City Parks & Recreation Department director, said.

Initially, the goal was to get the building ready by October in time for General Election voting.
“The biggest issue is dealing with — trying to get the roof done in the proper way to help with insulation and utility cost but also keep the roof under the realm of the historical register,” Harrelson said. “We got the building on the register in 2011, so we’re trying to do all the renovations but also keep the look similar to the way it is now.”
Hopes were to go with a rubber-type roof, which would have been cheaper, but the National Register of Historic Places deemed the roofing unfit to “the character of the building” and it would not meet building criteria, Harrelson said.
The plan now is to keep a metal roof over the gymnasium. Harrelson said metal roofing should cost $110,000-$115,000, while rubber would have been about $90,000.
“That’s the main area, keeping the metal roof, coming in and insulating on top of that roof and coming in with a new metal roof on top of insulation,” Harrelson said. “So that keeps the metal roof look of the building so we keep it within the parameters of the historical register guidelines, but it also helps us with insulating the building there.”
The renovation project should cost about $750,000, with $250,000 of that paid from a Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation grant received in August 2014, Harrelson said.
Lenoir City Mayor Tony Aikens said the overall project is about 75 percent complete.
What remains is roofing, electrical, front window replacement, heating and air installation and touch-up painting, Harrelson said.
“As you do these projects sometimes you come up on a delay,” City Administrator Amber Scott said. “Sometimes your needs change, and so the roof is one of those times where we got in there and saw the needs did change. Of course, the state historical commission requires us to have certain type of roof, a roofing system, and so we’re ... attempting to get the best price possible for that system, which takes a little time.”
Scott said roof work would likely go out to bid within a couple weeks.
“We’ve put in so much time and effort to being put on this register for such a monumental building for Lenoir City, and it’s kind of a highlight of Lenoir City, the War Memorial Building,” Harrelson said. “Just the significance of the building and why it was built to honor our veterans I think is just important since we did get on the register we maintain the building to stay on the register.”
Loudon County Administrator of Elections Susan Harrison said with the War Memorial Building not ready in time for early voting and Election Day, the plan is to use the Roane State Community College facility on Broadway Street.
“We got a lot of work done, and it’ll be nice to see the final product in a few weeks,” Harrelson said.