Panel seeks guidance on jail historical review

April 11, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - In the latest action regarding the old Jefferson County Jail, the Jefferson County Commission Thursday agreed to send the state Division of Culture and History a letter requesting that the state agency explain the steps needed to conduct a historical review of a building.

The action follows a March 31 decision by Jefferson County Circuit Judge Thomas W. Steptoe Jr. that an injunction stopping the demolition of the jail cannot be lifted until a historical review of the building is completed.

The judge's ruling follows efforts by a group of local residents both in and out of the courts to save the building at the corner of George and Liberty streets.


Those trying to save the jail from the wrecking ball said it should be preserved because of its architecture and because of a series of trials that were held in Charles Town in 1922 for miners involved in a labor uprising referred to as the Battle of Blair Mountain in southern West Virginia.

The commissioners have considered tearing down the jail and building new county offices.

The commissioners had asked the Division of Culture and History before how to conduct a historical review of a building, but they did not get specific answers, Commission President Jane Tabb said Thursday.

If the commissioners decide to conduct a historical review of the building, they probably will hire a consultant to oversee the process, Tabb said.

Under the historical review process, the commissioners would be required to document other possible uses for the old jail, said Carol Gallant, one of two people who have been fighting to save the jail through a case in Circuit Court.

The commissioners also have to gather public input on the issue when a historical review is conducted, Gallant said.

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