Knox Heritage Executive Director Kim Trent took to Facebook recently to express some frustration, describing her disappointment in the last two years and decrying a lack of leadership. While cryptic, the post was taken by some as a criticism of Mayor Madeline Rogero and several commenters weighed in with criticism. The post got some blow-back and after a few days it was taken down.
Trent says she was expressing her frustration with the city’s leadership in general and did not intend to single out any person in particular. She says it was interesting to see the responses to the post as many people expressed frustration with the problems faced by historic preservation efforts.
Things have not been good for historic preservation lately. Two historic houses were torn down on Walnut Street; the McClung Warehouses were lost to arson; and the Pryor Brown Garage, a 1920s structure downtown, is slated for demolition. There is also a plan to build a parking deck in Fort Sanders as part of the Cumberland Avenue Strip project, which in turn threatens some Victorian houses as part of a deal with Covenant Health.
But Deputy Mayor Bill Lyons and his wife Gay were offended. They notified Knox Heritage that they would honor their pledged contribution to the new Westwood House headquarters on Kingston Pike, but discontinued their usual monthly donation. The couple have been in the “major donor” category to the organization for several years and Gay Lyons, in addition to serving on the board, also worked as a fund-raiser for the organization.
Trent said she expects to continue working with Lyons and the Rogero administration and that Gay Lyons is still scheduled to chair two upcoming summer-supper fund-raisers.