City wants to buy Happy Retreat

November 18, 2003|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - The asking price for Happy Retreat, a historic home that the city of Charles Town hopes to purchase, could be around $1.25 million, Charles Town Council member Matt Ward said Monday night.

To help pay for the purchase, Ward said the city will apply for $750,000 in state transportation funds.

The money, which can be used to purchase historic properties, would come from the Transportation Enhancement Program, Ward said.

There are other sources of funding, some from the state, which the city can seek to make up the rest of the money needed, Ward said.

Although the asking price for Happy Retreat could be around $1.25 million, Ward said that is only a "discussion price" and added that many details of the deal have yet to be worked out.


In September, the current owner of Happy Retreat proposed that the city buy the home from him. Bill Gavin said the house has been a great place to raise his family, but it is getting too much to maintain and he wants the city to own it.

At the time, Gavin did not mention an asking price and said someone who specializes in appraising historic homes probably would have to determine an asking price for the home.

The house was the home of Charles Washington, brother of the first president of the United States and founder of Charles Town. The stately home along Mordington Avenue has a center portion between two wings and has marble fireplaces and decorative medallions in the ceilings.

The city would like to create a community center and museum at the home, in an attempt to boost tourism in the area, according to an application form the city is submitting for the $750,000.

The city also plans to create a biking and hiking trail around the property, and said the cost of that project plus the purchase of the home could total about $1.35 million, according to the application.

Because the city does not have the money to purchase the home, council members are considering having an organization known as the Trust for Public Land purchase the home, Ward said.

If the Trust for Public Land buys the home, the city would then purchase the house from the organization with the money it has raised, Ward said.

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