CENTERVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A century-old building in the heart of Centerville is at risk of collapsing after damaging high winds blew through Middle Tennessee in early March.

The Bates Building suffered significant damage to its roof, impacting the safety of the entire structure.

After engineers identified the damage, a 70-foot perimeter was blocked off, closing a portion of Highway 100 and forcing several businesses to evacuate.

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Tuesday morning, they determined the risk is lower. Highway 100 was able to reopen and a law firm on the adjacent corner of the Bates Building can move back into its offices.

The Bates Building, however, will need to be fully or partially demolished, according to Alan Gilbert, the building official for the town of Centerville.

“The winds were coming from the southwest that day so this building took the hit before any of the other buildings around here, and it being the tallest building, it sustained the damage,” said Gilbert.

Centerville Bates Building
(Photo: WKRN)

At the time of the severe weather, the Bates Building held a consignment store and the offices for four generations of Bates family lawyers.

Gilbert said the demolition plan is complicated because the Bates Building is connected to another structure holding the Chamber of Commerce, the Grinder Switch Center and the Knights of Pythias lodge.

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With the help of volunteers, Centerville Mayor Gary Jacobs said these organizations were able to safely remove their historic artifacts, including several Minnie Pearl items.

Jacobs said they are working to preserve at least a portion of the building, but no matter what, he said they will preserve the area’s charm.

“This building is one of the icons of the town square,” said Jacobs. “It is a tragedy that it suffered this damage, but we feel confident with the professionals that are working on it now that we will be able to save part of it at least.”