National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers, Mountain Branch, Mess Hall, Lamont & Veterans Way, Johnson City, Washington County, TN
Significance: The Mess Hall was the visual and practical centerpiece of the Mountain Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (NHDVS), a Beaux Arts campus of French Renaissance Revival structures built between 1901 and 1905. The NHDVS was a federal institution authorized by Congress in 1865 and charged with caring for Civil War veterans disabled by their military service. The NHDVS held a competition for the design of its ninth branch, to be located in Washington County, Tennessee at the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. The location was chosen at the urging of local Congressman Brownlow for its healthful climate and proximity to underserved veterans in Tennessee and other southern states. Although founded for Civil War veterans of the Union Army, the NHDVS membership had expanded over the decades to include veterans of the Mexican, Indian, and Spanish American Wars. By 1930 the system had eleven branches and became part of the new Veterans Administration.
The winning design by New York architect Joseph H. Freedlander incorporated the latest ideas of comprehensive design and Neoclassicism as taught by the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris. Freedlander created a hierarchy of communal buildings, barracks, and service functions arranged along a central avenue with views south to the nearby mountains. The Mess Hall is a monumental building centrally located along the main avenue with a tall, ornate clock tower visible throughout the site. The Mess Hall functioned as the main domiciliary dining hall where Mountain Branch veterans gathered three times a day for meals. The building included staff quarters and extensive kitchen, bakery, and pantry facilities.
Unprocessed Field note material exists for this structure: N1790
Survey number: HABS TN-254-K
Building/structure dates: 1904 Initial Construction