- 2016 Chairman's Award for Achievement in Historic Preservation
- 2014 Historic Preservation Award, Oak Ridge Heritage and Preservation Association
Alexander Guest House
Oak Ridge, Tennessee
Opened October 26, 2015
What better place for seniors to live than an iconic building with a story to tell? The historic restoration of the Alexander Inn in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, has created an assisted living center unlike any other.
The Alexander Inn, once known as “The Guest House,” was designed by renowned Chicago architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and built in 1942 as part of the top-secret Manhattan Project. In its heyday, the guest list of this elegant saltbox-style hotel boasted many well-known names, from top industrialists and scientists of the day—including the father of the atomic bomb, Robert Oppenheimer—to President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie.
But by the time Rick Dover and Dover Signature Properties acquired the property in May 2013, the inn had been unoccupied for more than 20 years and was in total disrepair. Now, Dover's $6 million investment has restored this beloved icon to its former glory, thanks to a partnership with Knox Heritage, a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving historic properties, and a grant from the Department of Energy.
“We’ve faithfully restore this building to its original look, from the soda-fountain bar in the lobby to the beautiful wide porch out front,” Dover says. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and is included as part of the proposed new Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Oak Ridge.
The new facility houses 58 residents. “Basically, it’s like a resort for seniors,” Dover says. “I don’t know of any other senior housing like it.” On the main floor, part of the renovated space is devoted to a small museum curated by the Oak Ridge Historical Association.
“This project was a really unique opportunity,” Dover says. “Lots of organizations came together to save this important building for public use, and it’s fitting that it now benefits seniors, who have served their communities in so many different capacities and who need affordable, high-quality housing that gives them the dignity they deserve. We’re thrilled to be able to be the catalyst for that.”