9 Lakes, downtowns, history, Trails
Wartburg’s Tanner Historic Building and Café to Re-Open on April 22
In the spring of 2015, a small group of citizens took on a project to secure and renovate a historic building on the main square of downtown Wartburg. The challenges would have deterred many, but not this group!
Countless small rural county downtowns are blighted with dilapidated vacant buildings, and county budgets that don’t extend to purchasing these buildings for investment. It is often easier to condemn and tear down, then it is to preserve and protect.
Undaunted, the group took on the challenge to purchase the Tanner property and begin the tedious work to restore this one time community gathering center. The first success was when Mr. Tanner turned the keys over in 2019 to the Morgan County Tourism Association, an all- volunteer non-profit. Over the next three years, the work of this dedicated group of volunteers continued to rescue this “sundries and soda fountain” store that had served the community since 1906. Funds were raised locally and much of the work was done by the volunteers themselves.
The Tanner Store was added to the National Historic Registrar in 2017. The building originally housed the Citizens Bank and Trust and was expanded in 1923 to add the Tanner store. The original bank vault and century old fountain counter have been preserved during the restoration.
The group is committed to re-establishing the store as a gathering place for local residents, but also as a hub for tourists who are visiting the nearby Obed Wild and Scenic River or hiking the Cumberland Trail. Tanners Store and Café once featured the town’s first heated running water and a shower that local miners would pay five cents to use to wash off the dirt and coal dust. The recent restoration included a new shower that will be available to through-hikers. Wartburg is the only city located directly on the trail so the store will be able to provide a comfort station, address to ship supplies, and a welcome center to provide a place to get information.
Friday, April 22, 2022 will mark the grand opening on this long visioned project.