Rehab begins on Manhattan Project-era hotel in Oak Ridge

Rehab begins on Manhattan Project-era hotel in Oak Ridge

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Officials broke ground on a rehabilitation project at the old Alexander Inn near the historic Jackson Square neighborhood. Officials broke ground on a rehabilitation project at the old Alexander Inn near the historic Jackson Square neighborhood.
The inn was built in 1940 and eventually became known as the Guest House because of the role it played in the famous Manhattan Project The inn was built in 1940 and eventually became known as the Guest House because of the role it played in the famous Manhattan Project
"This was the place to stay for all the visiting dignitaries, scientists and everyone that came through Oak Ridge stayed in the Alexander Inn," said Ethiel Garlington with the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance. "This was the place to stay for all the visiting dignitaries, scientists and everyone that came through Oak Ridge stayed in the Alexander Inn," said Ethiel Garlington with the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance.
"It's a history of how we came to end the war and how nuclear power became so important to this country," said Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan. "It's a history of how we came to end the war and how nuclear power became so important to this country," said Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan.

By DREW GARDNER
6 News Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - An oak ridge hotel made famous by its guests during the Manhattan Project is getting new life.

Officials broke ground on a rehabilitation project at the old Alexander Inn near the historic Jackson Square neighborhood.

The inn was built in 1940 and eventually became known as the Guest House because of the role it played in the famous Manhattan Project.

"This was the place to stay for all the visiting dignitaries, scientists and everyone that came through Oak Ridge stayed in the Alexander Inn," said Ethiel Garlington with the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance.

One of those dignitaries was President John F. Kennedy when he visited the Oak Ridge National Lab as a U.S. Senator.

"It's a history of how we came to end the war and how nuclear power became so important to this country," said Oak Ridge Mayor Tom Beehan.

After being shuttered in the late 1980s, the building was abandoned and fell into serious disrepair.

"I wouldn't have been surprised one morning to wake up and have found out that it had burned to the ground, and that would have been a tragedy," said Beehan.

Plans to restore it began to materialize 15 years ago, but it was five years ago when Garlington and the alliance got involved that the plan really took off.

"Early on we listed it on our endangered list," said Garlington. "We started working with the community and local stakeholders to find a solution."

After the Department of Energy tore down several buildings on the K-25 site, it was forced to offset those historic losses by providing $500,000 for the purchase and restoration of the inn.

"We can't just save buildings just to save them. They have to have an economically viable use," said Garlington.

That use will come from the Family Pride Corporation. It plans to convert the inn to a senior living facility where several more generations of Oak Ridgers will stay in the years to come.

The restoration is expected to be completed by mid-2014.

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