Rock Island site among state’s most endangered properties

Great Falls Mill. Photo/Bruce Atnip
Great Falls Mill. Photo/Bruce Atnip

ROCK ISLAND – The Tennessee Preservation Trust (TPT) announced this week its annual list of most threatened state sites, and a former Upper Cumberland textile mill landed among the top 10.

Great Falls Mill, located inside Rock Island State Park and built in 1892, it is the last surviving legacy of the cotton textile industry in south central Tennessee. The building has been used for storage for the last 50 years, and state officials say deterioration over the last 20 has compromised the its integrity.

Owned by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), the building is leased to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation for use by Rock Island State Park. “However, bureaucracy, cost of repairs and lack of a vision plan has left the landmark” in disarray, TPT officials say.

Other properties on the list include Blair’s Ferry Storehouse in Loudon, Marine Hospital in Memphis, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church in Rogersville, the Depot in Niota, Antoinette Hall in Pulaski, Johns-King House in Smyrna, Hillsboro Village in Nashville, Bonnie Kate Theater in Elizabethton and the Masonic Hall in Franklin.

Every year since 2001, the list has been released as a means to raise public awareness and give credibility to restoration efforts across the state. Of the 110 previously listed properties, close to half have been saved or are in the process of being protected/rehabilitated and many have received grants for restoration.

Properties listed are historically and architecturally significant sits in need of immediate action to stop or reverse serious threats.

“Ten in Tenn provides an opportunity for education and action,” said Dr. Michael Birdwell, TPT board vice chair and Tennessee Tech history professor. “We want to inform the public about endangered historic structures that have significance for a specific place or the entire state/nation. Once the public knows why this building or that is important, we want them to embrace that history and urge them to join us in preserving these treasures for future generation.”

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