Former General Mills employees tour historic building following fire; ETSU could move in

JOHNSON CITY, TN (WJHL) – Eighth months after a fire damaged a historic Johnson City building, News Channel 11 is learning more about what could go inside and the people who helped created part of that history.

Summers-Taylor Inc.’s President Grant Summers invited former General Mills’ employees into the building for a tour Friday afternoon.

Over half of the employees who worked in the mill when it was closed years ago came to the tour. Many of them reminisced on years of hard work in the building and they got a chance to see progress as Summers-Taylor works to renovate the building.

“He was wanting to know what some of the tunnels lead to and how all the silos worked, it’s good to bring all of that back, it’s like working I’ll probably dream on out about it,” Past employee, Allen Shipley said.

Summers said they’re still working on how they want to design the building. He wants to preserve some of the historical aspects of the building like old brick work, wood columns and saving equipment that they can incorporate into the design. They’ve put it in a new roof structure and repaired parts of the building that were damaged by the fire.

The next step is paint removal and Summers said once that’s done changes will be more noticeable.

Although nothing is final, Summers said East Tennessee State University could be moving into the building.

“The conversation with ETSU continues, right now we’re talking about the things involving their Fine Arts department and really they’re coming to us and saying we believe in it,” Summers said.

Summers said they’re also considering retail and office space, a restaurant and even condos. They’re on track to finish the changes by late 2018.

Johnson City Police tell us the 17-year-old charged with setting fire to the old General Mills building recently had a hearing and a future date for another court appearance has been set.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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