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Charles Town officials suggest revitalization effort changes

April 05, 2002|BY DAVE McMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Two Charles Town city officials suggested minor changes to the Jefferson County Courthouse Thursday night as part of a $1.3 million downtown revitalization.

Charles Town City Council members are suggesting that a wide sidewalk beside the courthouse on George Street be used for a seating and historical information area.

Council members are proposing that benches, trees and signs that describe the history of the courthouse and other parts of Charles Town's history be placed in the area.

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As part of the project, Mayor Randy Hilton and council member Randy Breeden asked the Jefferson County Commissioners if they would replace a set of wooden steps leading to a side door of the courthouse.

Hilton and Breeden also wanted the commission to consider putting a new doorway over a set of steps that go down under the courthouse.

No action was taken on the city's request, although Commissioner Al Hooper said city officials should make sure that the public has plenty of opportunity for public comment on the changes.

"Just remember, we're dealing with a shrine here," Hooper said.

The courthouse was built in 1836. It was there that abolitionist John Brown was tried and sentenced for treason for his raid on a U.S. arsenal in Harpers Ferry, W.Va.

The courthouse was damaged during the Civil War, and by the end of the conflict its metal roof had been removed and made into bullets.

Some employees with the U.S. Park Service in Harpers Ferry have volunteered to make the historical interpretive signs for the outside of the courthouse, Breeden said.

The $1.3 million downtown revitalization will involve ripping up old sidewalks on Washington Street from Samuel to West streets and replacing them with a sidewalk that is highlighted by "pavers" that resemble brick. The changes also would include new trees, street lamps and parking meters.

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