published Monday, August 6th, 2012

Etowah's L&N Depot restoration proceeds

From left, Glenn Riggs, Michael Newberg and Anita Geiser of East Tennessee Construction Service create a new underground drainage system for Etowah's L&N Depot. Officials said a comprehensive overhaul of the town's 106-year-old historic landmark should be completed in October.
From left, Glenn Riggs, Michael Newberg and Anita Geiser of East Tennessee Construction Service create a new underground drainage system for Etowah's L&N Depot. Officials said a comprehensive overhaul of the town's 106-year-old historic landmark should be completed in October.
Photo by Paul Leach.

ETOWAH, Tenn. — The L&N Depot, a key historical Etowah landmark, is undergoing comprehensive repairs and renovations from its roof to its foundation.

The depot, a 106-year-old, two-story building which serves as home to the Etowah Chamber of Commerce and the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association, is in the middle of necessary structural and cosmetic overhauls, officials said.

"It's our anchor," said Etowah City Manager Matthew Gravley. "It's always been our anchor and always will be our anchor."

The depot project, which will cost about $225,000 in renovations, grew unexpectedly out of an Etowah Utilities program to reduce flooding through a restoration of the town's stormwater system, Gravley said.

The depot, which long has been subject to flooding because of failures in the stormwater network, featured prominently in those plans. During realignment of the structure's drainage lines in the spring, it was discovered that the wooden frame that acts as a cushion between the building and its foundation had rotted away.

In addition to reworking the depot's drainage system, repairing its concrete walkways and cleaning its roof, the city then had to tackle a "scary" and costly safety issue, Gravley said.

Historical preservation grant requests failed to net funding for the depot, so the city had to shoulder the burden through bond issues.

"I commend the City Commission for making the tough decision to go ahead with this project," said Linda Caldwell, executive director of the Tennessee Overhill Heritage Association. "Not only is it a visual landmark, but people have an emotional attachment to it."

Other restoration plans are in the works, said Caldwell, including repainting portions of the building interior and rehabilitating a gazebo on the depot grounds.

"It is Etowah's front porch and living room," Caldwell said.

Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at paul.leach.press@gmail.com.

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