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Historians take tour of doomed landmark

January 11, 1999|By LAURA ERNDE

Local historians got a chance Monday to go inside the 1774 Kammerer House, which is to be demolished soon.

An owner's offer to salvage pieces of the limestone farmhouse, such as the original door and handmade paneling, doesn't make up for its imminent loss, historians said.

"Speaking as an individual, this makes me sick that the house is being torn down," said Lee Stine, president of the Washington County Historical Society.

The property is owned by the nonprofit Hagerstown/Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc., known as CHIEF.

Historians said the house is a prime example of an 18th-century farmhouse.

The puncheon insulation in the basement, made from wood and mortar, is found in only about a dozen houses in the county, said preservationist Paula Reed.

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CHIEF is paying Reed about $2,000 to document the house and its history before it is torn down.

Reed plans to take pictures up to and including the demolition, she said.

The two-story house was built by a man who sailed to America on the same ship as Hagerstown's founder, Jonathan Hager.

Stine, one of a half-dozen people to tour the house Monday, hopes the historical society can save a few pieces of the house.

The foundation stone with the date 1774 is not for sale, but will be preserved, Elliott said.

CHIEF applied for a demolition permit two weeks ago.

The application must be reviewed by the Washington County Historic District Commission.

Stine, president of the Washington County Historical Society, said he believes the demolition overshadows all the good things that Elliott has done for the community.

Elliott said he tried to negotiate ways to save the house for the last five years.

Business decisions, however, now make that impossible.

"I kept the building for a long time and hoped we could find a productive use. That didn't happen. You finally have to make a decision and move," he said.

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