Kammerer house may be leased for $1

February 23, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

If Citicorp Credit Services accepts a proposal by the Washington County Commissioners, the Kammerer house soon will be owned by the county and leased to a historical group for $1, County Administrator Rodney Shoop said Tuesday.

If the plan succeeds, the house built by Johan Ludwig Kammerer in 1774 would not be moved or demolished.

The County Commissioners agreed to the idea during a closed session Tuesday, Shoop said.

Under the proposal, the county would make certain guarantees to Citicorp and would take on liability on behalf of the Mason-Dixon Middleburg/Mason-Dixon Line Area Historical Society.

Citicorp spokesman Phil Kelly said the company would have no comment until officials see the proposal for the house.

The building is on a half-acre lot at the Airport Business Park, and is surrounded by parking lots and buildings.

The property's owner, the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc., known as CHIEF, applied for a demolition permit for the house in December. Local preservationists quickly began campaigning to save the historic house, which is one of the oldest in the county.


Under Tuesday's proposal, the county would pay CHIEF a nominal fee of $1 to buy the land and the home, Shoop said. CHIEF, a public-private organization, has worked with the county on projects in the past, including construction of the Newgate Industrial Park.

Citicorp wants to buy the property from CHIEF but it has agreed to consider any proposals drawn up by preservationists involving the house.

At the request of preservationists, Commissioners John L. Schnebly and Bert L. Iseminger met with Citicorp and then with members of the Washington County Historical Society and the Middleburg/Mason-Dixon Line Area Historical Society earlier this month.

The commissioners asked Lee Stine, president of the Washington County Historical Society, to develop a plan showing how preservationists would restore and use the house. The county will forward that plan to Citicorp, Shoop said.

The county would guarantee to Citicorp that the home will be restored and would assume liability for the property, he said.

It will be the preservationists' responsibility to come up with the money to restore the house, he said.

The Historical Society has financial commitments of about $50,000, Stine has said. That is enough money to do restoration work on the outside of the house, he said.

It will cost about $100,000 more to do restoration work inside the house, Stine said.

It would not make sense to move the house, as some suggest, because some of its historical value comes from its basement, which could not be easily relocated, he said.

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