Ben West Library Could See Renovation, Repurpose

Posted at 5:53 PM, May 11, 2016

The old Ben West Library could see new life after the Tennessee Education Association (TEA) announced plans to buy the building from Metro and renovate the building into the new TEA headquarters. 

"When we first walked in here, it was clear that the building had been abandoned for a long time, but you could just see the good bones of this building." Jim Wrye, Assistant Executive Director at TEA, said. 

The Ben West Library was originally built to replace the old Carnegie Library in 1966.

"Before the new library on Church Street was built, this was the hub of reading for the city for many years." Wrye said. 

Originally built with education in mind, the TEA has put forward a more than $12 million proposal to preserve and renovate the building into the new TEA headquarters.

"The teachers are going to save the library." Wrye said. 

The renovation would not only create offices for TEA employees, but make the building into a state of the art facility for use by Metro schools, teachers, and educators. 

Plans from TEA showed the first floor being renovated to include a large auditorium with a theatre on the second floor, and office for TEA. 

"We're the statewide teachers organization and this will provide ample access for us to bring those teachers from across the state for meetings, conventions, and assemblies." Wrye explained. 

Metro Council has to approve the sale, but if everything goes as planned, TEA hopes to have the property renovated and open for business by the end of the year.