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Social services agencies find new home

November 30, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

A $2.5 million capital campaign will soon transform the once-bustling Hagerstown Shoe Co. complex on Franklin Street into the home of several major social service agencies.

A gift to Christ's Reformed Church 2 1/2 years ago, the 125,000-square-foot building is already serving as the headquarters for the REACH cold weather shelter.

Sunday, the church congregation voted to authorize the ambitious campaign to renovate the eastern part of the building, tear down the western portion of the building for 60 parking spaces and erect a connecting structure between the church and the five-story building.

"It was a strong vote of 164-16," said the Rev. Don Stevenson, pastor of the church at 130 W. Franklin St.

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The newly renovated building is scheduled to house the Community Action Council of Washington County and the Hagerstown Housing Authority, Stevenson said.

"We are still talking with the Hagerstown Free Clinic," Stevenson said.

The cold weather shelter is already in the building and will be moved into the renovated portion, Stevenson said.

In conjunction with the refit of the Hagerstown Shoe Building, the church and the adjacent building will become accessible to the handicapped, Stevenson said. There are two existing elevator shafts in the old shoe building.

"The connecting structure in the alley between the buildings will become a narthex to the church," he said.

At the same time, the entire face of the church will be redone and new church offices will be designed.

Because it will house all nonprofit agencies including the church, no taxes will be assessed on the property.

The gift served as a tax write-off for Bennett and Geraldine Rubin when they handed the building over to the church in 1997.

First opened in 1911 as the Hagerstown Legging Co., the workers made shoes and leggings for the military using leather from the Byron Tannery in Williamsport.

In its heyday in 1939, more than 1,000 people worked in the building.

Later known as Hagerstown Shoe Co., it was bought out in 1968 by Cannon Shoe Co., which in turn stopped manufacturing there in 1984, leaving the building vacant.

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