Lakeshore Park Admin Building Ribbon Cutting Held

Communications Director

Kristin Farley
(865) 215-2589

400 Main St., Room 691
Knoxville, TN 37902

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News item

Lakeshore Park Admin Building Ribbon Cutting Held

Posted: 09/21/2016
The historic and architectural landmark that has towered over the heart of what is now Lakeshore Park for well over a century will remain a mystery no longer to area residents.

Mayor Madeline Rogero, City Council members and the Lakeshore Park Board held a ribbon-cutting and open house today for the Lakeshore Park administration building after completion of a $3.1 million historic restoration.

Ribbon cutting at Lakeshore Park
Photo by Traci K. McDonell / City of Knoxville

“This building is an architectural and historic gem that we felt was very important to preserve,” said Mayor Madeline Rogero. “For more than half of Knoxville’s history, it’s been closed to the public as it served the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute; now it will serve all of Knoxville for years to come while improving access to City recreation services.” 

Lakeshore Mental Health Institute was opened in 1886 and closed in 2012, representing 126 years of service to thousands of mental health patients in East Tennessee.

The three-story building will now house office space for Parks and Recreation staff and one Lakeshore Park Board staff member, as well as a meeting room available for the public.

“The City has done a great job in restoring this iconic building,” said Dee Haslam, the Lakeshore Park Board Chair.  “The Mayor and her team have set a high standard for future improvements. It is our hope and dream to maintain these standards throughout the redevelopment process ensuring that all new facilities last for generations to come.”

The architect for the project, Elizabeth Eason Architecture and general contractor, Johnson & Galyon Construction, took steps to preserve the structure’s original character per the City’s request, such as rehabilitating the building’s grand porch entrance, keeping the original windows, and reinforcing the elaborate three-story staircase rail. The Public Building Authority provided a dedicated project manager to oversee the renovation.

There were also sustainable upgrades made to the building, including the addition of new storm windows with low-E coating, energy efficient LED light fixtures with daylight and vacancy sensors, improved roof insulation, and efficient plumbing fixtures, to name a few.

“This project provided a rare opportunity for the City to restore and preserve a 130-year-old building,” said Christi Branscom, Deputy to the Mayor and Chief Operating Officer who oversaw the building’s rehabilitation project. “At the same time, we were able to integrate environmentally responsible upgrades that will save the City in ongoing operating expenses, so there’s a nice marriage of the past and future in this project.”

Since the State of Tennessee conveyed the property that had served as the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute to the City in July 2013, the City has invested more than $6.8 million in infrastructure, demolition and other improvements for the expanded Lakeshore Park.

The infrastructure improvements included replacing outdated water, sewer, gas and electric lines, some of which had predated World War II. 

City Engineering’s oversight of the abatement and demolition project (completed with contractors Elizabeth Eason Architecture, QE2, Chad Steward Associates, Shield Engineering, and NEO Corp.) entailed removal of 20 buildings on the property and earned three state engineering awards. 

Even the demolition was green: 83 percent of the materials removed were either recycled or reused.
Haslam noted that the City’s investment in demolition, utilities and infrastructure paved the way for construction of the Phase 1 park improvements. “The City’s investment let us focus on our capital campaign for park improvements, all of which will be funded through private contributions. This twenty-year public-private partnership has created a great central park with something for everyone.” 
In 2013, the City and the Lakeshore Park Board began to seek public input for a $50 million Lakeshore Park Master Plan to make significant improvements to the park’s 185 acres.

Some of the most anticipated amenities revealed in the master plan include a river walk, canoe/kayak launch, gardens, picnic areas, event and recreation fields and renovation of the park’s chapel as an open pavilion to eventually be used for special events.

Since then, the implementation of ongoing upgrades has been underway. In June 2014, the Farmers Association for Retail Marketing (FARM) opened a farmers’ market held Fridays in one of the park’s eastern-most parking lots. Additionally, the 1.2-acre, fully accessible Hank Rappé Playground was opened in September 2015, thanks to fundraising by the Lakeshore Park Board.

In November 2015, the Haslam family and Pilot Flying J committed $15 million toward the $25 million Phase 1 improvement plan.

Today, in addition to the City’s opening of the administration building, the Lakeshore Park Board announced that construction of two miles of additional trails and other park improvements will be underway in October 2016.

Lakeshore Park has had a long-standing sports league presence through the Knox Youth Sports baseball, softball, flag football and lacrosse programs held on the park’s existing six ballfields and the soccer league games organized by AYSO and the Knoxville Football Club on the park’s three soccer fields.

“We couldn’t be more excited to move into the beautiful and historic Lakeshore Park administration building in a time when the park will be seeing significant upgrades,” said Joe Walsh, City Parks and Recreation Director. “We’re very grateful to our friends at the Lakeshore Park Board for making the $25 million in park upgrades possible.”

“Lakeshore is easily accessible from all directions and just a few minutes off the Interstate, which is why we use the tagline on the park’s web site: ‘Lakeshore Park: A Park for Everyone.’”

The Lakeshore Park Board is pursuing private donations to fund the Lakeshore Park improvement plan. For donations and to learn more about the park’s development, visit