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Church acquires two buildings

September 06, 2000

Church acquires two buildings



By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI / Staff Writer


Just a few months ago the backyard of 124 E. Franklin St. in Hagerstown was littered with sheets of metal, fencing, piles of lumber, rusted lawn chairs other objects that were hard to identify.

Now the debris is gone, thanks to the new owner, Otterbein United Methodist Church of 108 E. Franklin St.

Otterbein recently purchased 124 and 126 E. Franklin St., as a way of reaching out to help its ailing community, said the Rev. Stephen D. Robison.

"We're interested in the community's spiritual health, but we're also interested in making this a better neighborhood," Robison said.

Hagerstown City Police identified the East Franklin Street area as a high-crime section of the city and have been coming down hard on drug dealing, prostitution and related crimes there.

"It's fantastic. They'll probably be decent landlords and make code enforcement's job easier," said Hagerstown Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II.

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The property at 124 E. Franklin St. is across an alley from the church and 126 E. Franklin St. is next to it.

Otterbein doesn't know what it will do with the buildings yet but both have a lot of potential, said Robison.

The three-story, red brick buildings show some wear but their stately past is not hard to imagine.

Inside there are stained hardwood railings, balusters with ornate carvings and transom windows over each apartment door.

Each building has a long, narrow side porch and a back yard with at least one garage.

The church's council and 963-member congregation will decide whether to use the buildings for storage, programs, apartments, a parish house, pastoral counseling center, food bank or tear them down to increase the size of their parking lot.

"We want to create a place where people will want to come every day not just on Sundays," said Robison.

A lot of repairs are needed at 126 E. Franklin St., but the 124 E. Franklin St. structure is in good condition, he said.

Church officials have allowed a few tenants to remain until a decision on what to do with the property is made.

The church has removed carpeting and done some cleaning in the buildings but the church council must complete a capital campaign to expand the church before it can make major decisions, said Robison.

The church paid $43,000 at auction for 126 E. Franklin St. and $75,500 for 124 E. Franklin St.

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