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Shepherd College clock tower awaits repairs

December 01, 2000

Shepherd College clock tower awaits repairs



By DAVE McMILLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - A clock tower on the campus of Shepherd College is decaying, and college officials have closed the historic building and cordoned off the grounds outside to protect people from injury in case it falls.

A spokeswoman for the college said she is not sure how the damaged area on McMurran Hall was detected, but college employees were moved out of the building last week.

There is a fear that if the clock tower on the hall should fall, it could break through the roof of the building or tumble onto the grounds below, said college spokeswoman Valerie Owens.

It is believed that wood framing has rotted between a cupola and the rest of the tower, Owens said. The cupola houses a large bell and the clock is below it, Owens said.

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Sometime this week a crane is expected to arrive at the site and remove the cupola to allow carpenters to replace the damaged area, said Owens.

McMurran Hall houses the college's admissions office and a museum that includes pictures of past college presidents and other school memorabilia, Owens said.

The admissions office has been moved into other office space on the campus until the work is completed. The target date is around Dec. 22, Owens said.

McMurran Hall is a prominent building on the campus, and is in the center of the busy downtown area. It is often decorated for the holidays and has been the focus of other events downtown.

The building dates back to 1865 when it served as the Jefferson County Courthouse. It served as the courthouse until 1871 when the county seat was moved to Charles Town.

In 1871, Shepherd College was started in the building, according to Owens. It was named after Joseph McMurran, the first principal of Shepherd.

"Having old historical buildings has a certain charm, but they can be very expensive," said Shepherd College President David Dunlop, who estimates it will cost over $100,000 to repair the clock tower.

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