Middlesboro is leading the competition in a statewide contest called “This is My Old Kentucky Home” to identify places that Kentuckians feel at “home.” Community leaders submitted an entry for the Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks Home.
Originally built in 1911, the four-story brick building served as a convalescent home of the Elks order for a little less than a decade. After that it became a hospital where many people living in Middlesborough today were born.
“Historic places matter to Kentuckians. We want to invite people to share how and why they value Kentucky’s historic places, and build interest in the reuse and preservation of historic buildings,” said Craig Potts, KHC executive director and state historic preservation officer. “We want people to be able to tell their own story about how historic buildings and places make them feel.”
Discover Downtown Middlesboro acquired the building in December 2012. Ever since then the non-profit organization has worked hard to build support for its restoration.
Recently, grants to assist with this effort were secured from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Certified Local Government program administered by the Kentucky Heritage Council.
Additional applications are pending before the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection to assist with cleanup of hazardous substances in the building. If successful, DDM hopes to transform the vacant building into a beautifully restored mixed-use building with housing and offices on the upper floors and with retail and restaurant use on the ground floor.
“Middlesborough won a similar contest held nationally by CommunityMatters in September 2013,” said DDM Executive Director Isaac Kremer of the contest. “We’re confident that the community will rally together and we can win again, while highlighting one of the most distinctive buildings in Eastern Kentucky and our Commonwealth.”
The Elks Home will also be a focal point of the upcoming Better Block Middlesborough event on May 10. Storefronts will be brought back to life through the installation of a pop-up museum, signage and exhibits.
Additionally, several other temporary interventions will take place on this block including a pop-up cafe located at our Makers Market, a landscaped walkway near the middle of the block and other improvements to plant the seed for long-term change.
Numerous state officials and experts in community and economic development will be present including Kitty Dougoud, Kentucky Main Street Program director; Herb Petitjean with the Kentucky Department for Environmental Protection; Della Rucker from the Wise Economy Workshop and author of The Local Economy Revolution; and Bill Lutz, Community Development Director for Piqua, Ohio.
In celebration of National Historic Preservation Month, DDM asks that the community do their part and go out and help save the Elks Home. Visit the Kentucky Heritage Council page on Facebook, click the “Enter to Win!” button and vote.
You can vote once a day between now and May 23. DDM invites you to attend the Better Block event on May 10 and get involved firsthand.