A roof collapse at the old Daniel Boone Hotel appears to have been a clean break of the roof structure that did not damage the walls of 98-year-old building, the architect in charge of designing renovations to the building said.
The roof already had a hole near an elevator shaft that was built in 1976, and had started to sag. Water entering the roof there rotted the floors on the west side of the building. The front quarter of the roof collapsed along the truss at the front of the elevator shaft, and took out the remaining floors on the west side all the way to the basement, and the third floor on the east side of the building.
Architect Bill Richardson said the elevator shaft, a solid concrete block structure that goes from basement to roof, likely helped support the rest of the roof and kept the collapse from being any worse.
“ The front collapsed right along that line,” Richardson said. “We were fortunate that it didn’t wedge the wall over.”
Aerial photos show no damage to the brick, and Richardson said a structural engineer hired to figure out how to make the building safe thinks workers should be able to clean out the debris and start rebuilding.
“It (the roof ) looked neater than it was before when it at an angle,” Richardson said.
Despite the lack of damage, Richardson said the structural engineer will design a way to shore up the walls while work is underway to prevent any further mishaps.
The city has a $1 million grant to stabilize the building while it seeks money for renovating it. Eventually, the city hopes the historic hotel building will be a boutique hotel that will anchor the Downtown Whitesburg National Register Historic District with dining and retail on the first floor, guest rooms on the second and third floors, and a rooftop entertainment space, complete with a penthouse.
The hotel was originally built beginning in 1919, and opened for business the first week of July 1920. It served as a hotel until the 1970s. Mountain Comprehensive Health Corporation opened its first Whitesburg Clinic in the building in 1976, and stayed until 1996, when it opened the purpose-built clinic that it still uses on the old Whitesburg industrial site in West Whitesburg. The Letcher County Courthouse used the hotel building from early 1997 until the new courthouse opened in late 1998. It has been empty for more than 19 years.