Kammerer comes down to 11th hour

April 01, 1999

The forces fighting to save the historic Ludwig Kammerer House have reluctantly decided that moving it from its present site, on edge of Citicorp Credit Service's parking lot, is better than seeing it dismantled.

Led by Yvonne Hope, a member of Washington County's Historic Advisory Committee and Keedysville Town Council member, the group has found a contractor, Verling H. Wolfe & Co., of Bethel, Pa., which has agreed to move the structure for $56,000.

That's less than the $100,000 estimate I got earlier this year from Jerry Matyiko, of Expert House Movers of Maryland, Inc., but more than the $25,000 pledged by Citicorp and CHIEF, the Washington County Industrial Foundation, Inc.

And the group must do some quick fund-raising, because according Merle Elliott, head of CHIEF, unless there's a plan put together quickly, demolition will begin on Monday, April 5 at 8 a.m.


Phil Kelly, a spokesman for Citicorp, said that "We're aware that the historical society has the skeleton of a plan, and we're glad that they have accepted our proposal."

That proposal included the offer of $20,000 and a new lot for the historic home, built in 1774 by a man who came across the Atlantic on the same ship that brought Hagerstown founder Jonathan Hager to America.

With the demolition deadline looming, Kelly said much work will have to be done in a short amount of time, but said that "we'll do what we have to do, within reason."

Hope's group faces a daunting task, because in addition to raising money for the move, they also face zoning and subdivision reviews, and must have a new foundation built at the site at the corner of U.S. 11 and Henson Drive and find the resources to pay the moving contractor and buy the necessary liability insurance.

Hindsight is 20-20, of course, but it all would have been a lot easier had the preservationists been able to agree on this plan back in January, when a prominent Washington County business man approached me with a $1,000 pledge, and a challenge to others to do the same.

The hitch then (or one of them at least) was that the Washington County Historical Society wouldn't agree to accept donations.

Donations will now be funneled through the Citizens for the Protection of Washington County, the ad hoc group last heard from when its members found the St. Lawrence Cement Company's proposal to burn waste oil in its cement kiln at Security.

Checks should be made out to: Citizens for the Protection of Washington County, Kammerer House Fund and sent to that group in care of Yvonne Hope, 22 Mt. Hebron Road, Keedysville, Md., 21756.

Given the eleventh-hour nature of this development, can the plan really work?

"They can pull it off, if they're allowed to," Said Pat Schooley, a local historian who's written extensively on the county's historic structures.

Schooley, who's not part of Hope's group, but who's working with them, said that one of their first tasks will be to get together $10,000 for the initial payment to the moving contractor. They'll spend Friday and probably much of the weekend putting a written plan together for Citicorp and CHIEF's inspection, Schooley said.

Bob Maginnis is editor of The Herald-Mail's Opinion page.

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