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Plaque, mural to honor late businessman

August 04, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Through the efforts of the great-grandson of prominent black Hagerstown businessman Walter Harmon, a plaque and a mural will be placed at the site of the former Harmon Hotel on Jonathan Street.

"The plaque will be mounted on the corner of Harmon's Alley and Jonathan Street during a celebration that is tentatively planned for the middle or last part of September," said Brian Robinson.

The permanent mural, created by local artists, will grace the side of the Three-Minute Car Wash, which is on the site formerly occupied by the hotel.

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"The City of Hagerstown has agreed to the mural," Robinson said. And the plaque - financed through donations - is being created by GS Images.

Hagerstown City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said the entire endeavor sounds attractive to him and other city officials.

"We are aware of both plans and impressed with Robinson's goals," Zimmerman said.

Robinson said he hopes the celebration also will take the form of the first reunion of the descendants of Walter Harmon, who died in 1915.

Walter Harmon amassed what was considered a fortune in the early part of the 20th century through real estate holdings that included the hotel on Jonathan Street.

"Now we are looking for people who can contribute time, money and memorabilia to the project to honor his memory," Robinson said.

A history buff for many years, Robinson, 32, has worked on events honoring the Rev. Martin Luther King. Recently Robinson started up the African-America Historical Association of Western Maryland, which operates out of 356 Henry Ave. in Hagerstown.

"I've always had a feel for history," Robinson said.

After well-known local black historian Marguerite Doleman died in November 2000, Robinson said he decided to try to pick up the torch.

The son of George and Seldon Harmon Robinson, he is employed at Hagerstown Ford. But the rest of Brian Robinson's energy goes into his volunteer work with kids and his pursuit of history, he said.

"These things are the passions in my heart," Brian Robinson said.

Robinson can be reached at 301-991-5255.

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