New Tazewell city officials do their best, most of the time, to ignore and generally explain away spooky phenomena that routinely occur inside the city hall. According to veteran police detective Wayne Mewhinney, even the most jaded of the officers find themselves, at times, a bit hesitant to spend any late night hours inside the police headquarters, located on the second story of the historic building.
“There’s always the slamming of doors and other strange things happening when you know nobody else is around,” said Mewhinney.
As Halloween approaches, the unexplained happenings at the New Tazewell City Hall take on new meaning. Can there possibly be a restless spirit or two kicking up a ruckus in defiance of an untimely death or other unhappy occurrence?
The building has gone through a long list of reincarnations during its lengthy existence. At least one life was taken during its stint as a hotel and restaurant.
“A man was shot and killed, right there at the door,” said Mewhinney, pointing to the existing entrance to city hall.
During its incarnation as the Rhea Hospital, farming and industrial accidents were tended. Lives were lost and lives were brought into the world. In fact, Mewhinney says he was told by a local woman that she was born inside the patient room that is now his office.
“People died, and people were born inside that one building,” said Mewhinney.
For a time, the structure was known as a ‘house of ill-repute,’ with all the accompanying drama expected from a brothel.
Now into its fourth decade as the New Tazewell City Hall, the building plays host each month to the regular meetings of the board of Mayor and Aldermen.
During its latest meeting last week, Alderman Andy Duncan discussed the deterioration of the building exterior, especially the side facing the railroad tracks.
Duncan said he would like for the board to consider restoring that side of the structure to its original look. He suggested using antique bricks to match those currently exposed, rather than simply covering the “history” of the building with stucco.
He said he would like to research the meaning behind the ghostly images that appear along a portion of the exposed bricks. The image appears to be the letters CCO, which could possibly stand for the original company that manufactured the bricks.
Or, could it be one of many apparent signs ‘from the other side?’
Anyone possessing specific information about the history of the building is encouraged to contact city hall or the Claiborne Progress.
Reach Jan Runions at 423-254-5588 or on Twitter @scribeCP.