Richard E. Dover is a real estate developer based in Knoxville, Tenn. Richard E. Dover has previously worked as a project manager for General Homes of Houston, Texas, as well as for its parent company CBRE. Richard E. Dover was also an independent real estate developer until becoming general manager of Family Pride Corporation in 1993. Here Richard E. Dover discuses a recent community event held in conjunction with a renovation project in Oak Ridge, Tenn.
Interviewing Experts: Welcome, Richard E. Dover! Tell us about what you and Family Pride are doing in Oak Ridge.
Richard E. Dover: We have started renovations on the historic Alexander Inn, an old hotel that housed scientists who were working on the atomic bomb with the top-secret Manhattan Project during World War II.
Interviewing Experts: Are you restoring it as a hotel?
Richard E. Dover: No, we are converting it into a high-quality assisted living facility.
Interviewing Experts: But it is a historic renovation, right?
Richard E. Dover: Yes, we are restoring its exterior and much of the interior to its original form.
Interviewing Experts: Was it always called the Alexander Inn?
Richard E. Dover: No, it opened in 1942 as the Guest House and once hosted such dignitaries as physicists J. Robert Oppenheimer and Enrico Fermi, and Secretary of War Henry Stimson.
Interviewing Experts: So tell us more about the recent estate sale.
Richard E. Dover: We had lots of rooms to clear since the Alexander Inn had been vacant for more than 20 years. Some truly historic furnishings were donated to local museums, but we wanted to offer some to the public as well.
Interviewing Experts: Was there a good turnout?
Richard E. Dover: Oh, yes! At about halfway, we estimated 500 people had already been through.
Interviewing Experts: Wow, that’s a great turnout!
Richard E. Dover: Well, it was an unprecedented opportunity to buy items from the 1940s to the 1980s, including bed frames and Bibles, chairs and chandeliers, and dishes and dressers. It also gave the public a rare opportunity to see inside the front part of the hotel before renovations begin.
Interviewing Experts: There must have been quite a crowd.
Richard E. Dover: At one point, the line of people waiting to get in stretched from the hotel, located on East Madison Road in Jackson Square, to Kentucky Avenue.
Interviewing Experts: Were you pleased?
Richard E. Dover: I was very pleased with the community support. Actually, I was stunned, almost speechless!
Interviewing Experts: Did you organize this sale yourselves?
Richard E. Dover: No, the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance (ETPA) organized the sale, in conjunction with Knox Heritage’s Salvage Room.
Interviewing Experts: And how about the redevelopment project itself—do you have partners?
Richard E. Dover: The ETPA helped make the hotel redevelopment project possible and the proceeds from Saturday’s sale benefited the nonprofit organization.
Interviewing Experts: Is this an official historic site?
Richard E. Dover: The Alexander Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and preservationists have worked for a decade or more to save it.
Interviewing Experts: Has there been any federal involvement?
Richard E. Dover: Yes, a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy helped make the project possible.
Interviewing Experts: Tell us more about what the new facility will be like.
Richard E. Dover: The center will cost $6.5 million to complete and will have 60 units, including a wing for patients with Alzheimer’s and dementia.
Interviewing Experts: Thanks so much for talking with us.
Richard E. Dover: My pleasure.