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Preservationists must show they have funds to save Kammerer house

February 05, 1999|By BRENDAN KIRBY

Two Washington County Commissioners who met with Citicorp Credit Services officials on Friday said preservationists who want to save a historic farmhouse must demonstrate that they have the necessary financial resources.

County Administrator Rodney M. Shoop and Commissioners Bert L. Iseminger Jr. and John L. Schnebly met with Citicorp officials to discuss the possibility of saving the Kammerer house, a 1700s farmhouse that sits on a half-acre lot in the Airport Business Park. It is surrounded by parking lots and buildings.

The credit card processing company would like to buy property.

Citicorp spokesman Phil Kelly declined to comment on the meeting except to say the company and the elected leaders had a "nice discussion."

Schnebly said Citicorp officials feel the house has not been well maintained and cannot be preserved at its spot.

"They have made a tremendous investment in the facilities out there," he said.

Schnebly said the company remains open to moving the building to another spot and would listen to any proposals.

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"My feeling is those proposals would cost money," he said.

Iseminger said he, Schnebly and Shoop plan to meet with members of the Washington County Historical Society on Wednesday. He said it is important to hear more from that group and declined to speculate about the best course of action.

"It's really kind of early for that," he said.

Iseminger added that a decision must come quickly, however.

"I would say within the next several weeks, this will be wrapped up one way or the other," he said.

The property's owner, the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc., known as CHIEF, applied for a demolition permit in December. Preservationists in the county have been trying to find a way to save the building ever since.

The two-story house, which was built by Johan Ludwig Kammerer in 1774, is one of the oldest buildings in the county. Kammerer came to America on the same ship as Hagerstown founder Jonathan Hager.

Schnebly said he would like the county to develop a comprehensive approach to historic preservation in order to prevent a repeat of the flap with other old buildings.

"We better try to get everything on the table now and determine what our priorities are," he said.

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