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Public meeting scheduled on Sharpsburg purchase

July 20, 1999|By JULIE E. GREENE

SHARPSBURG - Now that the Town of Sharpsburg owns a dilapidated, uninhabitable house on West Main Street, town officials want to know what residents want them to do with it.

Mayor George Kesler said possibilities include having the two-story house restored for residential use or for a town museum.

The Mayor and Town Council plan to hold a public meeting on Thursday, July 22, at 7:30 p.m. in Town Hall to discuss the house's future and hear ideas from residents.

The town took ownership of the 135 W. Main St. house in late June after acquiring it at a tax sale for $42,500, said Town Attorney Charles Wagaman. Kessler said town officials bought the property to ensure it would not be used for a major business.

Town residents said the house was home to the privately owned Antietam National Museum from at least the 1970s until about four years ago. It has been vacant since then.

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Kesler said the Town Council could put restrictions on the deed so future owners must restore the home strictly for residential use. Or, the town could apply for grants to restore the house and sell it as a residence.

The mayor said he prefers the building not be used for a business. The house comes with enough land on the west side for a few parking spaces off West Main Street.

Neighbor Lori Dagenhart said she would like to see the house torn down.

Lori and David Dagenhart had their homeowners' insurance canceled by one firm in October 1997 because the vacant museum was considered a hazard to their property, she said. They signed on with another company so they were never without homeowners' insurance, she said.

Neighbors said the house is full of pigeons and the back yard often is littered with liquor bottles and has snakes.

Dagenhart said she believes termites infesting her house came from the vacant building because her house didn't have termites two years ago.

"I would love to see somebody put the money into it. It would increase my property value," she said.

But Dagenhart said her preference would be demolition to a costly remodeling.

Some neighbors said they'd prefer to see the house restored.

Becki Pitcock, 47, who lives on the west side of the house, said she'd like it to be restored because it once was a gorgeous home.

Joanne Breitenbach, owner of the Jacob Rohrbach Inn Bed & Breakfast across West Main Street, said turning the house into a museum is a great idea.

Kesler said the house appears to be structurally sound. The front porch is roped off with red caution tape and holes in the porch have been covered with wood.

There are places in the house where walls aren't complete, the ceiling is falling and plumbing hasn't been completed. Many windows and doors are boarded up.

With wooden support beams visible in some rooms, Kesler said he believes the structure might have originally been a log house.

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