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Tanner Drug Store Community Update


Left to right: Gretta Tanner, Charles Tanner, Melissa Maness Bunch (Joyce, Meredith, Flitcroft & Normand) and Morgan County Tourism Alliance Volunteers: Mark Keck, Chairman; Pam Gunter Co-Chairman TN Mountain Laurel Festival; DeAnn Kirgan, Teasurer; Marta Monroe, Secretary, Co-Chairman TN Mountain Laurel Festival.

As of December 30, 2019, Charles Tanner transferred ownership and the keys to the Tanner Store, a Wartburg community icon, to the Morgan County Tourism Alliance (MCTA).

With that change in ownership came the promise to the Tanner Family to forever preserve the Tanner Store name, its community legacy and the store building itself. The current and permanent National Registry of Historical Places status for the store building will remain unchanged, and the planned Historical Preservation Easement with the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance will add to the assurances that the store will have no change in appearance.

About this sale, Charles Tanner said, “It took me a long time to decide what to do. I talked to my family and friends about it. I knew I needed to do what I could to save the store and make my Dad proud. I think he is smiling down at us knowing the store will be revived and working once again. I will help with saving the history of this place.”Gretta Tanner agreed saying, “We will be a part of the resurrection and will participate in preserving the history of the Tanner Store.”

Mark Keck, Chairman of MCTA stated, “It is a joyous day that we of MCTA partnered with Charles and the rest of the Tanner family and have made significant steps to preserve this iconic community mainstay and the Tanner name. There is a lot of work ahead of us to bring it back to its glory days of the Tanner Store. It will be a means to not only show the past but the future of tourism in Morgan County and Wartburg. There is not enough praise that can go out to the team who so diligently worked on bringing this vision to summation. Now the real work begins and the future looks promising for all.”

It will take many months of hard work to inventory the contents and stabilize the store building so as to protect it from further deterioration. Repairing the roof is our top priority followed closely by the necessary repairs and upgrades to the flooring, electrical and plumbing systems and installation of an HVAC system. MCTA is honored to have the support of the family and will work together with the family and the community to restore this special place.

Many questions have been asked about the future of the store; the MCTA plan is to return the building to productive use and maintain the original Tanner Sundries concept. Future plans include, but are not limited to, an ice cream parlor, sales of bakery items and sandwiches as well as hot and cold drinks, and the offering of services for hikers and campers such as cell phone recharging stations and WiFi. Once an inventory is completed, some of the inventoried items are planned to be made available for sale. In addition, the building will become the permanent address for MCTA. Once the doors are re-opened to the public, everyone will be invited to come in and experience the historical significance of this special building and place.

The public is encouraged to ask questions and make suggestions to MCTA regarding the store. The current contacts for questions or information is Marta Monroe @423-223-4644 or Pam Gunter @ 865-617-0251.


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