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Demolition permit issued for Kammerer

March 03, 1999|By SCOTT BUTKI

A demolition permit was issued Wednesday for the Johan Ludwig Kammerer house just hours before the Washington County Historic District Commission voted unanimously to nominate it for the National Register of Historic Places.

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Washington County Administrator Rodney Shoop said, however, that the historic home would not be torn down anytime soon. The permit was issued Wednesday because there is no legal way to delay it, Shoop said.

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

CHIEF President Merle Elliott has agreed not to demolish the home until Citicorp Credit Services responds to a Feb. 23 county proposal to buy the land for $1 and then lease it to Middleburg/Mason-Dixon Line Area Historical Society for $1.

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Lee Stine, president of the Washington County Historical Society, said he was not worried about the county action Wednesday. "We knew a week or two ago that it was approved to be issued," he said.

"We are just going on what we have been told that nothing is going to happen until some response came from Citicorp," Stine said.

Stine wrote a plan for the county explaining how the preservationists would restore the home's condition to pristine condition.

Citicorp Spokesman Phil Kelly confirmed Wednesday that the company had received the county proposal. He would not say how soon a decision would be made.

While CHIEF owns the land, Citicorp wants to buy it.

Lara Lutz, a member of the Middleburg/Mason-Dixon Line Historical Society and a descendent of Kammerer, applied to have the two-story home built by Kammerer in 1774 placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The register is administered by the National Park Service as the official list of cultural resources that contribute to the understanding of the nation's historical and cultural foundations.

"It's my opinion that this is a no-brainer," Pat Schooley, secretary of the Washington County Historical Society, told the commission.

"The County Commissioners are making a valiant effort to save this house."

If the home makes it on the list, it will be easier for preservationists to raise the estimated $150,000 restoration cost, she said.

A nomination and a listing would not prevent the home's demolition, she said.

Elliott told the commission that he neither supports nor opposes the listing. CHIEF's permission would be needed before the home can be placed on the list.

The commission recommendation will go to the Washington County Commissioners for a vote. It must all be approved by the governor.

The farmhouse is on a half-acre lot in the Airport Business Park. It is surrounded by parking lots and buildings.

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