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Future of historic Centerville building in question after wind damage

By Forrest Sanders,

2023-03-15
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No matter where you're from, there are the places that have always defined your community. The future is in question for one of those places. A Middle Tennessee city says they want to save it, but it's a matter of safety.

"We have a map on the wall that shows people have traveled here all over the country, different parts of the world," said Concetta West, who runs The Local Place. "We're always like, 'what are you doing here in Centerville?'"

A lot of people come to Centerville for the bits of history you see at practically every door. A whole lot of people in town are basically historians of it. Like Concetta, there's Pastor Devin Pickard who runs Papa Kayjoe's Bar-B-Que and Julie Lucas of Hope on the Square thrift boutique.

"We're an old community," said Devin.

Since the first years of the 1900s, a particular place has been part of downtown Centerville.

"It's been here for generations, long outdates me and my folks," Devin continued.

It's the Bates building, long connected to the Bates family's law practice. Something's happened to a cornerstone of Centerville.

"There were gusts up to 70 miles an hour," said Concetta. "The building suffered some damage from that."

"I got a call that something was not right, and we needed to stay out," said Julie.

"You could see from the ground floor all the way up to the ceiling and out the top of the building now," Concetta continued.

"People were evacuating the Bates law office, evacuating the chamber of commerce," Devin said.

The area around the building's blocked off because of fear of the building's stability. City officials tell NewsChannel 5 there has to be some demolition of at least part of the place for the safety of people around it. They hope to save as much as possible.

"People are sad about it," said Concetta.

"Regardless of how it works, something's going to be lost at some level," Devin continued.

"There's these buildings that mean a lot to these people," said Julie. "I have shed a lot of tears."

After all, Centerville native Minnie Pearl used to share the story of going to see her mother perform at the opera house once inside that old building. Julie's Hope On The Square was in there. The community went in just long enough to get everything out of the Bates building and move it to a spot on the square a few doors down.

As a pastor, Devin said there's only one way to view whatever will happen to this place.

"There's a season for everything, there's a beginning, there's an end," said Devin. "Even though something's a hundred years old, in just the snap of a finger, that can come to an end. That's just part of life. There's birth, and there's death. I think we're seeing that now with a building that means so much to us in our community."


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