Mayor reopens Chilhowee Park's Jacob Building
April 28, 2004 - Mayor Bill Haslam reopened Chilhowee Park's Jacob Building on Wednesday and welcomed the NSRA Street Rod Nationals-South as the first guest at the remodeled facility.
"The Jacob Building has hosted millions of Knoxvillians and visitors for more than 60 years, and with this renovation stands ready to do so for years to come," Mayor Haslam said. "Chilhowee Park is inviting to visitors, and adds value aesthetically and economically to the heart of Knoxville."
The Jacob Building closed in December to undergo a $2.6 million renovation that included the addition of air conditioning to the two-story, 56,000-square-foot facility. Other construction included adding a brick fašade to the stucco exterior and replacing painted windows with an insulation treatment that will contribute to the building's energy efficiency and lower utility bills.
Mayor Haslam thanked Knox County Mayor Mike Ragsdale for the county's contribution of $100,000 toward the project's cost and Knoxville Tourism and Sports Corp. CEO Gloria Ray for her organization's recruiting of events that will draw 38,000 visitors to Chilhowee Park over the next three months.
Mayor Ragsdale noted that he viewed Knox County's contribution as an economic investment that will produce a significant return.
"A facility such as the Jacob Building benefits everyone in the region as the facility attracts new tourism dollars to East Tennessee and serves to introduce visitors to all that Knoxville has to offer," he said.
Added Gloria Ray, "Many cities are just now realizing the value of outdoor exhibition centers and are spending millions to develop new venues. Knoxville already has such a facility and the renovations to the Jacob's Building improve the look and appeal of the entire Chilhowee Park complex.
"This means Knoxville can offer substantial four-season, indoor exhibition space that compliments the park's outdoor facilities and its easy access from the interstate," she said.
The Jacobs Building update is among improvements made at Chilhowee since a master plan was created for the park in 1998 by Knoxville architectural firm Bullock, Smith & Partners.
That plan was the model for new brick and wrought iron entrance gates, underground utilities, paving and extensive landscaping.
Contractor for the Jacob Building renovations was Southern Constructors.
Chilhowee Park hosts about 450,000 visitors annually, including those attending its signature event, the Tennessee Valley Fair, which traces its roots to the 1910 Appalachian Exposition held on the site.
The Knoxville Zoo and the East Tennessee Discovery Center draw even more guests to the park.
The National Street Rod Association will bring nearly 12,000 members and guests to Chilhowee. The show is the third largest street rod event in the country.
Other events scheduled this spring and summer include: the Ford F-1000 SuperNationals Truck Show; Honda Riders Club of America's Honda Hoot Rally; and the Masters Ultimate Auto Expo.
The Masters Ultimate Auto Expo is a first for Knoxville, and Masters Entertainment Group is expected to film much of the event for programming to be aired on ESPN2 and the Outdoor Life Channel.