(WBIR) Many of the buildings that have stood vacant for years in Lakeshore Park will soon come down.
The west Knoxville property used to be the site of the former Lakeshore Mental Health Institute, which provided 126 years of mental health services for upper East Tennessee.
Several of the buildings featured in this gallery will remain, but the City of Knoxville will tear the majority down. Before the buildings are demolished, WBIR 10News got an up close look at the structures that were part of the former mental health institute.
The property first became the site of a mental health facility in 1886, when it was known as the East Tennessee Hospital for Insane.
The oldest building on the property, the Administration Building, was built two years before the hospital opened. The city has decided to renovate that building because of its historical significance.
In 1927, the East Tennessee Hospital for Insane was renamed Eastern Psychiatric Hospital. During its peak in the 1960s, the hospital housed about 2,800 patients. In many respects, the property was a city in itself, boasting a boiler plant, a water tower and more than a dozen buildings.
In 1977, Eastern Psychiatric Hospital was renamed the Lakeshore Mental Health Institute.
About 13 years after it was renamed, the state began to downsize the hospital. It was three years later that the state leased 60 acres to the City of Knoxville to create a city park.
The institute closed in 2012, and now the city plans to convert the property entirely into a public parkland. But first the buildings must come down.
Crews will demolish the buildings one at a time to minimize the construction zone's impact on the existing public park space. The first three buildings scheduled for demolition are the laundry building, a small building where patients upholstered furniture, and the old state health department building.
The contractor has yet to determine the order in which crews will raze the remaining six buildings. Those structures include the Chota Building, the boiler house with its large smokestack, the Keller Building, Baker Building, Village Mall, and the sprawling Waterside Building.
Crews aren't tearing down everything at Lakeshore. The city is spending more than a million dollars to preserve and update the Administration Building. They will also save the Central Services building and an old chapel on the property.
All combined, the city expects to spend about $5.2 million on the entire project this year. City leaders said the demolition and other improvements will lay the groundwork for its master plan over the next 20 years.