Pending Governor Bill Haslam’s signature, revitalization efforts at Elizabethton’s historic Sabine Hill House and repairs at the Roan Mountain State Park campground have been approved by the state legislature.
Tennessee’s $31 billion 2012-2013 budget includes an appropriation of $1.1 million for the restoration of Sabine Hill and $1.26 million for Roan Mountain. In February, the governor proposed funding for the two projects. The projects were approved by the Tennessee General Assembly on Monday when the 2012-2013 budget was passed to the governor for his signature.
Sabine Hill, located in the west end of Elizabethton overlooking Highway 67, was purchased by the state of Tennessee in 2007, but funding to restore the home has not been available.
Now that it has been approved, Sabine Hill will be completely restored and opened to the public, in a similar manner as the Carter Mansion. Patrick McIntyre, executive director of the Tennessee Historical Commission, said local residents may begin to see work on the home by the start of 2013. The THC is the leading agency behind the home’s restoration.
Back in 2007, the historic home near the intersection of W. G Street and W. Elk Avenue was slated for demolition, when a developer had planned to build a condominium complex on the property. Several local residents and Taylor descendents were outraged by the plans. Two citizens, Historic Commission Chairperson Helen Wilson and former Elizabethton mayor Sam LaPorte, decided to purchase the property. The purchase was made to stop demolition crews from tearing down the house. The state later purchased the home with the goal to develop the site into an historic park.
Since 2007, however, the economic downturn has made it difficult for the state to fund the project. Now five years later, money is being appropriated for the project.
The funding will be used to pay for archeological research, complete restoration of the home’s exterior and interior and construction of all necessary amenities. McIntyre said there are several “modern intrusions” which will be removed from the structure, including false walls and modern materials. The purpose, McIntyre explained, is to give the home the appearance as if it was 1815.
The nearly 200-year-old home was completed by General Nathaniel Taylor’s wife following the War of 1812, and several Taylor family members have lived here over the years.
McIntyre said Sabine Hill will be a “nice” addition to the historical, cultural and tourism industry in not only Elizabethton and Carter County, but also the state. The operation of Sabine Hill will be similar to the Carter Mansion on Broad Street Extension. Both will be managed by the Sycamore Shoals State Historic Area.
The county’s other state park, Roan Mountain, will be repairing its campground with the $1.26 million appropriation.
Tennessee State Parks spokeswoman Meg Lockhart confirmed on Thursday that the approved budget includes funding for Roan Mountain. Specifics on the campground project have not been announced but upgrades could include improvements to the roads, electric service, water lines, as well as enlarging the sites. The state could also consider new campsite amenities such as grills, tables and lantern poles. Campground bathhouses could also be renovated.
Deputy Commissioner Brock Hill of the Tennessee State Parks system said on Thursday, “Tennessee State Parks is focusing attention on facility upgrades at park locations that provide the best opportunities for a return on those investments. Roan Mountain State Park is one of our parks that continues to attract campers and other outdoor enthusiasts in great numbers. We expect to better serve our current visitors and attract new guests in the coming years through this strategic investment. Both our state park and the Roan Mountain region will benefit.”