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McCrory's a memory

Building being razed to make room for park

Building being razed to make room for park

March 04, 2004|by GREGORY T. SIMMONS

gregs@herald-mail.com

A metal claw scraped and tore away Wednesday at the shell of the building that once housed the McCrory's store in downtown Hagerstown.

The demolition project on West Washington Street began this week. The building is being razed to make room for a public park to be built in conjunction with the University System of Maryland Hagerstown Education Center.

As the bricks, mortar and steel crumbled off the building throughout the day, some passersby said they were glad to see the building go, even though they had fond memories of McCrory's.

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"I've lived here all my life," said Kathleen Phelps, 24. "When I was little we used to go in there and shop."

Phelps, her husband and her daughter were strolling through town Wednesday as workers were spraying down the building's facade to keep dust to a minimum.

"The town needs to be renovated. It needs a facelift," Phelps said.

Looking over at the demolition crew, she said, "I think it's a sign of something good."

Catherine Drummond, a Hagerstown attorney, said it was neat seeing the crews working downtown.

"It's a strange thing to see in the middle of town. I was wondering how they got (the backhoe) in there," Drummond said. "It'll be nice when it's done. ... I think it'll help downtown."

City Engineer Rodney Tissue said it would take a few weeks to finish the demolition work. An estimated $500,000 in construction work is to begin in late summer on what is being called University Plaza.

The education center is expected to open next January, after renovation of the Baldwin House complex is complete.

City Planning Director Kathleen Maher said the city bought the property in early 2003 to complement plans for the education center. The building was vacant when the city acquired the property and has remained so.

Ronald Thomas, 67, stopped on the opposite side of West Washington Street as the demolition crews continued their work.

"I used to go in there and eat" in the store's cafe, said Thomas, who said he's lived in the area since 1955.

Setting nostalgia aside, Thomas said he was glad the building was in its last days.

"I think anything they can do to improve the city, they can go ahead and do it," Thomas said. "God knows Hagerstown needs help, right?"

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