Alliance puts historic building up for bid in Jonesborough

Sue Guinn Legg • Mar 19, 2013 at 9:04 AM

The Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwest Virginia is seeking a buyer willing to restore and preserve the century-old building that houses the Old Sweet Shop building in downtown Jonesborough.

Bernard and Audrey Kaiman donated the building to the nonprofit alliance in February in order to better ensure its preservation. On Thursday, the alliance’s board voted to sell the property through a sealed bidding process through which a buyer will be selected based on criteria including plans for the building’s restoration as well as the offered purchase price.

“We’re advertising it for sale in accordance with the Heritage Alliance’s mission to preserve and promote the architectural, historic and cultural resources of our region,” said Deborah Montanti, executive director of the Heritage Alliance.

The bid package was still being prepared late Monday and will be made available today online at heritageall.org and at the alliance’s office at 212 E. Sabin Drive, Jonesborough.

“Our hope is that everybody recognizes how important this building is to Jonesborough and that everybody recognizes what a wonderful location this is and that it is deserving of all the love and care we can give it.”

Built by the fraternal Masons’ organization in 1905, the building served as home for the Rhea Lodge of Jonesborough for several decades. A two-story brick hardware store known as The Masons’ Storehouse formerly operated on the site and was demolished to make way for the lodge.

The Kaimans purchased the building and opened the Old Sweet Shop there early on in a long-running effort to rejuvenate Jonesborough’s downtown business district. Now in its fourth decade of continuous operation, the seasonal ice cream parlor has since been transferred to other owners. In selecting a buyer, Montanti said the board will also consider bidders’ provisions for a lease for the current business owners.

The county property tax assessment on the building is $116,000 and Montanti said a real estate appraisal of the property is comparable with that amount. “We’re selling it as is,” she said.

Bids on the building must be submitted by 5 p.m. April 15. The board will meet to consider the bids April 18.

More information about the building and the bidding process may be obtained by calling the alliance at 753-9580 or emailing info@heritageall.org.

Organized in 2001 through a merger of the Jonesborough Civic Trust, the Jonesborough/Washington County History Museum and the Historic Jonesborough Foundation, the alliance serves as the designated administrator of the Chester Inn State Historic Site in downtown Jonesborough.

The alliance also owns the 1840 Duncan House that houses its offices, the neighboring 1886 Oak Hill School building that serves as an educational facility for visiting school groups and a warehouse in Jonesborough where architectural pieces donated to the alliance are stored and sold for use in architectural-restoration projects.

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