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By CINDY SIMPSON
Improvements to preserve the historic Temperance Building in downtown Harriman are happening; it’s just not the kind of work that can be seen from the street.
Structural improvements include bracing sagging floors from the basement.
“It was a lot of work to get it to here,” said Bill Milburn, project manager.
“I think Harriman is on the right path,” added Milburn, who is on the Roane Heritage Commission. “We do love old buildings. The people that built Harriman worked in these.”
“This building defines Harriman,” agreed Councilman Buddy Holley.
The work right now included using hydraulic lifts and cribbing to raise the floor about two inches and installing footing with reinforcing steel rods in an area in the basement below the stairs.
The floor above is noticeably more stable.
“This was the first phase to sort of shore up the center point load,” Milburn said.
New walls will be built to support the side of the stairs.
Milburn said a few more weeks remain of repairing that area before other stabilization efforts can commence.
Next will be additional reinforcement in the basement, particularly to shore up outside walls and get all the floors as level as possible.
Holley said the floors had become so uneven that he had to replace staircase spindles before a fundraiser at the buildings.
“It had settled so much three of the spindles had fallen out,” Holley said.
The basement was a former city jail, and the remains of the stairs coming down were worn with footprints.
“How many prisoners have come down those steps?” Milburn pondered.
“This place has a lot of history.”
The Temperance Building was first home to the East Tennessee Land Co., which was the entity that sold the lots for the prohibition utopia that was to become Harriman.
Later a university opened its doors there.
The foundation is limestone mined from Walden Ridge, the edge of the Cumberland Plateau that the building faces.