Philadelphia's town hall damaged; building's future uncertain

Philadelphia's town hall roof collapses; building's future uncertain

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The Philadelphia town hall building is out of commission after its roof collapsed. The Philadelphia town hall building is out of commission after its roof collapsed.
City officials say it happened because of recent rainfall and wind, which weakened the walls and allowed a large chunk of the metal roof to cave in. City officials say it happened because of recent rainfall and wind, which weakened the walls and allowed a large chunk of the metal roof to cave in.
Mayor John Drinnon calls the budget limited.  "Without some generosity from the public or a grant or loan of some sort, I don't see us anytime in the future being able to reconstruct the city hall," Mayor John Drinnon calls the budget limited. "Without some generosity from the public or a grant or loan of some sort, I don't see us anytime in the future being able to reconstruct the city hall,"
Mayor Drinnon surveys the damage to the interior of Philadelphia's town hall. Mayor Drinnon surveys the damage to the interior of Philadelphia's town hall.

By MIKE KRAFCIK
6 News Reporter

PHILADELPHIA (WATE) - The town hall building in the Loudon County city of Philadelphia will be out of commission for the foreseeable future after the building's roof caved in this weekend. 

City officials say the roof collapsed because of recent rainfall and wind, which weakened the walls and allowed a large chunk of the metal roof to cave in. Officials say nobody was in the building at the time of the collapse.

"I went back Sunday morning, more of fell in than what there was on Saturday," said Philadelphia resident Bill Booarg.

The weekend rain also caused flooding in the main room of the town hall, known as the center point of daily life in Philadelphia.   

The collapse happened just weeks after the building was condemned. County buildings and code enforcement officials found structural issues with the building's ceiling.

The roof had just been replaced a year ago. The city installed a new metal roof in 2012 after the old one was damaged by hail.

Mayor John Drinnon and several volunteers worked Sunday afternoon to remove critical files and documents from the building.  

"We knew this was coming for quite some time. We've had some concerns about the roof for several years," said Drinnon.

The building was originally constructed as a Masonic lodge in 1956, but was later given to the city.

"Our city council meetings are held there. The fire department does its training there. The Ruritan meets here, the girl scouts meet here, just various city functions," said Drinnon.

For years, city leaders have looked at other options for replacing the town hall building. The building is in area near a town square with several other rundown buildings.

A proposed safety center would have housed the city hall and fire department, but the project couldn't get off the ground. Applications for federal rural development grants were denied in 2011 and 2012.

"Currently we're between a rock and a hard place when it comes to this building," said Drinnon.

Without any help from outside sources, the city will not have many options. 

Philadelphia's city council recently passed a budget of $84,000. All but $1,000 of that has already been allocated.

Drinnon calls the budget limited.

"Without some generosity from the public or a grant or loan of some sort, I don't see us anytime in the future being able to reconstruct the city hall," said Drinnon.

Officials say the city's normal day-to-day operations will continue uninterrupted.

Mayor Drinnon will meet with an insurance adjuster on Monday.

Drinnon says he spoke with Loudon County Director of Schools Jason Vance about possibly taking possession of some mobile classrooms. The school system used them while Loudon County Middle School was being constructed.

City council will meet next week at Philadelphia Elementary school to decide whether to demolish or repair town hall.

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