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Train station auctioned

March 07, 2001

Train station auctioned

By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

kimy@herald-mail.com

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer

Jernigan, winning bidTroy Jernigan placed the winning bid on the Smithsburg train station during a foreclosure auction at the steps of the Washington County Circuit Court Tuesday afternoon.

An auctioneer started the bidding at $70,000 and Jernigan ended up buying the building for $89,700, according to attorney Roger Schlossburg, trustee for the property.

Klaus Von Mahr, the owner, defaulted on a $112,000 mortgage with Hagerstown Trust Co., said Schlossberg.

Jernigan, a Smithsburg landscaper, said he was surprised the bidding went so high.

"I wanted to get it for $75,000," he said.

The stone building was last used as a railroad station in the late 1950s. Since then, it has housed several businesses, including a dry cleaner, bank, a beauty shop and an insurance agency.

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Jernigan plans to rent out the railroad station to someone who will put a restaurant and/or an ice cream parlor there, he said.

"The biggest problem is that it will need a lot of renovations," said Jernigan.

Schlossburg said Jernigan can take ownership of the property in about 30 days.

Doug Diehl, owner of Merry Maids cleaning service, a lawn care service and several car washes, bid against Jernigan for the historic building on Railroad Lane.

Bidding stopped several times as Jernigan and Diehl contemplated their next moves while being prodded by the auctioneer.

Jernigan eventually won out when Diehl declined to top Jernigan's bid of $89,700.

He stopped bidding because he was in the process of buying another car wash and hadn't planned on spending more than $85,000 for the railroad station, he said.

Diehl, of Smithsburg, said he might have moved his cleaning business from Hagerstown to the railroad station if he had been the top bidder.

Diehl said he mows the property near the railroad station and has often looked at the building and recalled growing up in town.

"My grandfather would take me there when he would do his banking," said Diehl, who also had an account there.

"I remember when it was one of the nicest buildings in Smithsburg," he said.

The building was most recently used for a branch of a Connecticut communications company called Sky Pager, which closed the office there at least a year ago.

Last year, Smithsburg Mayor Tommy Bowers suggested that the town buy the station for the police department's use. He said federal grant money was available to help with the purchase.

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