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Neighbors, mayor describe Morristown College as community 'blight'

6:01 PM, Mar 11, 2013   |    comments
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A once historic East Tennessee college remains empty and silent on Morristown's north side.

Longtime resident Gertude Lawson can see the dilapidated, old Morristown College from her front window.

"Just stepping out on the porch and having to look at that every day of my life," the Morristown resident said.

The 51-acre college campus has seen many better days. Weeds, hollowed buildings, and broken bricks cover the site today. It's a very different picture from 1881 when it first opened.

Two fires, in 2008 and 2010, further damaged the remaining buildings on campus in recent years.

Lawson students have been replaced by vandals and the homeless.

"It worried me because when they started living up there, I got scared because I live by myself," she said.

Morristown Mayor Danny Thomas said he has been working on the property since taking office last year.

"I received a letter from a child saying it was scary living next to it," the mayor said.

Mayor Thomas stressed nothing is changing at the moment on the campus because of who owns the property.

"The thing that created the problem at the college is the person who bought the college passed away shortly after buying it," he added.

The city said structural dangers mean many of the seven remaining buildings may have to be torn down if they step in. The mayor said that is regrettable.

"So much history there, that it would be a shame not to keep some of it," Mayor Thomas said.

For resident Lawson, change can't come soon enough.

"The buildings, basically, are beyond repair, and they should put something very nice up there," Lawson said.

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