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Early 1800s stone house to be demolished

May 17, 1999

1800s limestone houseBy SCOTT BUTKI / Staff Writer

photo: RICHARD T. MEAGHER / staff photographer




Another historic Washington County home may soon be dismantled, but this time the owner of the property tried to prevent its destruction.

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Architect Paul Perini of Hagerstown has requested a demolition permit for an 1800s-era limestone house and two other buildings, a barn and a building he calls a smokehouse.

The buildings are on the Wolfinger Farm on Cressup Lane off Marsh Pike. Records suggest the house was built by 1816. The ages of the other two buildings are unclear, and a fire destroyed most of the original barn.

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At its May 12 meeting, the Washington County Historic District Commission decided by a 2-2 vote not to try to block the demolition.

The house is historically significant for its architecture, said Pat Schooley, secretary of the Washington County Historical Society. The 1 1/2 story building has a dormer, a window set upright in a sloping roof, which was unusual for county farm houses, Schooley said.

In a phone interview, Perini and his mother, R. Kathleen Perini, of Hagerstown, said the house has been deteriorating since at least 1920 due to vandalism, weather and other factors.

In the late 1940s a plea was made for the home to be restored, he said.

During the 10 years the Perinis have owned the property, they have been encouraging others to restore the house, he said.

When people with money and interest in preserving the property tour the home, they usually are shaking the heads by the time they leave the building, he said.

"It's too far gone. It's going to cost too much money," he said they tell him. There are holes in the floor, windows missing and the roof is in bad shape, he said.

The planned dismantling of the building follows the destruction of other historic buildings earlier this year. The Perinis approached the Historical Society and others about preserving the home.

They offered to donate the building to the Historical Society so it could be moved to a different site, but the society did not have money for such a project, Schooley said.

As the building is dismantled, people can buy items from inside that they think are of historical value, Kathleen Perini said. All proceeds will be given to the Historical Society.

The stones from the building will be saved and given to the Historical Society, she said. Drawings of the building will be donated to the society, the Maryland Historic Trust and the Western Maryland Room at the Washington County Free Library.

"I think it is very sad to lose a house that has merit. I do regret losing another house," Schooley said.

Schooley said she was glad the family approached the Historical Society to see what could be done.

Historic information about the buildings is sketchy and the original owner is unknown, Perini said.

They also own a fourth building, a spring house, on the property, which they plan to move to a nearby site and restore, he said.

Paul Perini said it is ironic that the family is getting publicity for dismantling a building because the family company, Perini Construction Inc., often does restoration work.

One of the most noticeable restoration jobs was the improvements made to the building that houses Frostburg State University's Hagerstown Center at 20 Public Square in downtown Hagerstown.

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