Johnson City woman wants to turn Oaks Castle into an arts center
Updated On: Aug 21 2014 02:34:32 PM CDT
UPDATE 8/21/2014: The Kickstarter link is now live.
Oaks Castle is currently vacant in Johnson City, but that could change soon.
Cher Cornett, a professor with ETSU's digital media program, has big plans to turn it into an events venue and art museum.
"I want this to be a place where the community just gets to get their hands in it and experience things they may not normally get to experience," Cornett told us.
She took us from room to room explaining her vision for the castle.
"This would be a great little reception space, for a bar," Cornett described. "On that bottom part of the property, that's where I think a band shell should go. Put a band shell big enough to put a symphony in it."
She told us she hopes to host wedding parties, Shakespeare in the part events, and even renaissance fairs.
Before Cornett can get started, she has to raise $675,000 to go toward a down payment and the first year's mortgage.
She told us once it gets off the ground, she plans to use some of the money raised from the events held at the castle to finish the rest of the renovations.
Cornett hopes she can then transition it into a non-profit organization and a public arts space.
"It's only two miles from campus, half a mile from downtown, right off the interstate, just a perfect location," she said.
The castle is also in the city's Historic Overlay District. Cornett brought in architectural historian Hal Hunter to help her start compiling information and pictures to apply to have the castle put on the National Register of Historic Places. Hunter told us the building was constructed in 1922.
"It's very unique in terms of its structure and the design is totally by itself, really, in this part of the country," he said. "I don't know of another Italianate mansion like this around."
Cornett is launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise the money she needs to buy the property. She told us that should be up and running by next Wednesday.
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