(WBIR - Maryville) After 119 years of service, a facility that housed hundreds of children in need of a family has now closed.
The Blount County Children's Home in Maryville closed its doors Thursday, when the utilities were shut off. The facility's board cites high bills and low donations for closing the two building, nine-acre campus closed.
"We were able to extend and trying to get a couple of grants, and we had good reason to get those funded, but the deadline was October 1st. And when it didn't happen, we knew what we had to do," said board member John Weston.
About 10 years ago, foster children were moved out of the facility after state laws were changed regarding how cases were handled.
In the childrens' place were four organizations that helped families -- through either foster care, drug treatment programs, or youth activities.
One of them was the Maryville Youth Theatre, and its operators did not know about the closing until Wednesday.
"We don't know what we're going to do right now," said co-director Christina Adams.
"Basically what this amounts to is we use this space to teach the kids -- the theatre arts program -- and with very little warning everything is gone," her husband, Buddy, added.
Weston said the two buildings are still the property of the board, but if they do not have a new fundraising strategy soon, the county will take it over.
"We had several inquiries from religious organizations, foster family organizations that may be some viable options," explained Weston.
Two of the four organizations: Nic Kick, which helps teenagers quit the use of tobacco, and the Gardner House, which mediates foster home families, will be available through neighboring churches on an "as-needed" basis.
The organization Blount County Foster Parent Association helps supply children with clothing -- and will be storing extra supplies in members' houses. They are now concerned about Christmas items, and are asking for the public's help through their website.
The Maryville Youth Theatre has been suspended until further notice.