Mercersburg Borough Council accepts burned-out building

December 10, 2003|by RICHARD F. BELISLE

MERCERSBURG, Pa. - The Mercersburg Borough Council voted to accept a historic apartment building that was gutted in a September fire in "as-is" condition with the stipulation that the borough pay to finish the demolition of the burned-out structure.

The council agreed to accept the building Tuesday following a 40-minute executive session with the borough attorney, said Betty Stenger, chairwoman of the borough's Historical Architectural Review board. Stenger sat through the closed session with the council.

"They agreed to take it as is," she said.

The value of the building, which sits on the northeast corner of the borough's public square and was known as the Carriage House Hotel, lies in a two-story log house buried under the brick veneer that covered it, Stenger said.


She said the log house, which is believed to have been built in the late 1700s, once was owned by Archibald and Jane Irwin, ancestors of President Benjamin Harrison.

She said an official with the Pennsylvania Historic and Museum Commission toured the gutted building shortly after the fire.

The old log house originally was covered with German wooden siding. That was removed when the bricks were put on, Stenger said.

She said the borough has no estimate of the cost of completing the demolition or of rehabilitating the log house.

Stenger said grants are available for such work.

The building was an occupied apartment building at the time it caught fire on Sept. 26. Two of its residents were injured in the blaze, including a man who jumped from his second-floor apartment.

Damage to the building was estimated at $500,000.

Also Tuesday, the council, by a 3-2 vote, appointed former Councilman Thomas Suddeth to replace Councilman Brooks Harryman, who resigned in November. Harryman served as council president.

Hartzel Watson also was nominated Tuesday to take Harryman's seat.

Voting for Suddeth were council members Thomas Heefner, Joshua Meyers and Roger Defibaugh. Council members Mike Schaub and Michele Quattrociocchi voted for Watson.

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