Following several months of meetings — including two public open houses — official recommendations were made to the Farragut Board of Mayor and Alderman during a workshop Thursday, Feb. 23, regarding potential use of Farragut’s historic Campbell Station Inn.
Trevor Hobbs, assistant to the Town administrator who spoke on behalf of a working group he led along with public input from more than 100 survey results, discussed the findings.
“The working group recommends that the Campbell Station Inn be used primarily as a Heritage Center, Information Center and rental facility,” then secondarily as a location for “art and artifact displays, a gift shop, crafter/artesian workspace, catering prep space and office uses as supplemental to those primary uses,” stated the report Hobbs submitted to the Board. “It is also recommended that a basic restroom facility be implemented in room 208 of the main level.
“If catering prep space is implemented, the working group would recommend either main level room 103 or lower level room 001. If office use is implemented, the working group would recommend it be primarily on the upper level.
“These recommendations are generally consistent with recommendations received through multiple phases of public input and require limited renovations,” the report further stated.
Now it is up to the Board to determine steps going forward.
Inn history, BOMA action
Farragut purchased the Inn in 2012, under the leadership of then Town Mayor the late Dr. Ralph McGill. Since that time, all non-original outbuildings and attachments were removed, the structure was stabilized and Mayor Ralph McGill Plaza plus parking and restrooms were constructed surrounding it.
Built in the very early 1800s, the Inn has been a private residence, a hotel and also served as a hospital site during the Civil War, among its previous uses.
“Based on feedback from (the Board), staff will prepare need and cost estimates for additional renovations, furnishings and equipment for use during the Town’s budget and CIP processes,” the report further noted.
“The Board will then be able to prioritize the proposed project alongside other Town projects.”
Public open house data
A little more than 100 residents visited and toured Campbell Station Inn during two open houses Jan. 27 and Jan. 28.
“We had a total of 101 survey responses from the two days, and probably had a few more visitors than that, considering there were some couples and families that came through, but only submitted one survey,” Hobbs said during the working group’s final meeting Friday, Feb. 17.
The working group had begun meeting last Fall, several times at the Inn itself, and determined a handful of “guiding principals” to help determine uses, including preservation; making the building available and open to the community; keeping renovations minimal; avoiding duplication of Town programming and services; avoiding competition with local businesses; and that uses should generate some revenue for the Town.
From the surveys
Top three uses suggested for the main floor were: heritage center (79 respondents), information desk/visitor kiosk (66) and art/historic artifact display (82).
Top three uses for upper floor: 71 chose art/historic artifact display, 62 chose crafter/artisan workspace and 62 chose heritage center.
Results in one category in particular seemed surprising to the working group. Seventy-seven percent did not think office space a good use of the main floor; and 56 percent did not think office space would be good for second floor space, either.
“The one I was not expecting – office (space), has always been an assumption, but that was not the use (preferred) according to the survey,” Hobbs said.
Overall, though, the results “really seemed to reinforce our discussions in here,” he added about possible uses.
Seventy-six percent of respondents thought room 104, at the back of the house on the main floor, should be used as a restroom, while 59 thought room 208 should be used as a restroom.
However, Hobbs said, “The Town doesn’t have to have restroom inside the house; we are compliant with what we have outside.”
When asked why, Hobbs elaborated the reasons.
For one, “this is an historic building, and because we have ADA compliant restrooms on premises,” he said
Comments from the public meetings
“It is very interesting to see and a wonderful asset for our Town,” said Farragut resident Jeanne Brykalski, who also said she was intrigued, for one, “by the different types, layers and style of wallpaper used down through the years. I’m not sure ultimately what it could be used for, but maybe a Folk Life museum or in combination with a Heritage Center.”
“I love early American history,” Farragut resident Adam Miller said. “I have been wanting to come here for some time. The house is great, and I’m glad it has been preserved.
“Our Town has a lot of history it does not capitalize on, and I would like to see it used in that capacity. This building has stories to tell.”
Farragut resident Dian Hall said she, too, “loves history and I love this building. We don’t have our own downtown, per se, and I like the idea of creating a sense of our own downtown here and see it as something that would draw everybody to it.
“I also like the idea of artisans being able to use the space here, and what I think would be good would be if there could be some (rotating or changing) aspects that could draw people here again and again,” she added.