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Kammerer House demolition begins

April 05, 1999

Kammerer House DemolitionBy LAURA ERNDE / Staff Writer

photo left: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

photo below: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




The sound of a sledgehammer marked the beginning of the end for the Kammerer House on Monday morning.

A five-member wrecking crew started, piece by piece, dismantling the 1774 limestone farmhouse built by Johan Ludwig Kammerer.

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"So there she goes. We tried, but finally time runs out," said Merle Elliott, president of the Hagerstown-Washington County Industrial Foundation Inc., which is selling the property to Citicorp Credit Services Inc.

There were no onlookers when the crew started about 8 a.m.

At the end of the work day, several people who stopped by found that Allegany Wrecking and Salvage of Hagerstown had taken off most of the roof.

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"I hate seeing things at this stage," said Elizabeth Graff, curator of the Washington County Historical Society.

Elaine Mauck took pictures.

"They don't understand what they're destroying. There's no sense in it," she said.

It will take about a month to bring down the house, said Allegany Wrecking owner/operator Joel W. Merrbaugh.

Kammerer DemolitionMerrbaugh plans to recover as much historic material from the house as he can, including limestone, hand-hewn paneling and an original window frame, he said.

The foundation stone with the date 1774 will be preserved.

Elliott said he tried for five years to find a way to save the two-story farmhouse, surrounded by Citicorp-owned buildings and parking lots.

Last month, Citicorp rejected an 11th-hour offer by the Washington County Planning Department to buy the property and lease it to the Middleburg/Mason-Dixon Line Area Historical Society.

The Washington County Historical Society had $50,000 in pledges toward the $150,000 needed to renovate the house.

Moving it was not a good option because of the high cost and because much of the historic value would be lost, historians have said.

The home, one of the county's oldest, is built on a spring. The puncheon insulation in the basement, made from wood and mortar, is found in only about a dozen houses in the county.

Kammerer sailed to America on the same ship as Hagerstown's founder, Jonathan Hager.

About 35 people, including some of Kammerer's descendants, came to get a final look at the house over the weekend.

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