A crumbling piece of history could soon become a first of its kind draw for Monroe County.
The old Tennessee Military Institute Academy moved into a sprawling 144 acre campus back in 1909. In the 1990's, it was acquired by the Tennessee Japenese Meiki Gakuin High School.
But when the school closed, the buildings were left to decay.
Despite the crumbling conditions, Paul Gaffney, a former member of the Harlem Globetrotters, sees potential.
“So people can grow, it’s all about the next generation and how we can help stimulate and motivate people in education,” Gaffney said.
It’s why he is purchasing the campus – to found the Gaffney Athletics Prep Academy.
He said it will be the first charter high school to combine an emphasis on athletics with science, technology engineering and math.
“It will focus on the careers in sports. The world knows about the physical parts of sports but it’s not known as all the other careers in sports, from sports medicine, sports marketing, sports communications, things society really doesn’t tell you about.”Gaffney explained.
It will take serious work to get the campus ready. Currently, the damage is so severe, the city considers the it uninhabitable. But Gaffney plans to change that – starting renovations in the next few months.
“There’s nothing like seeing something grow, putting a seed in the ground and watching it grow. And I think this is one of those things that’s going to grow for generations and generations and generations because it’s all about our next generation.”
They hope to open some sports fields this Summer as they continue work. The plan is to have the first freshman class at the school in 2018 with full enrollment eventually about 600 students.