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Rescued Jefferson County Jail could be used for office space

December 02, 2005|by DAVE MCMILLION

charlestown@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.VA. - The work to give the old Jefferson County Jail a new life has begun.

The Jefferson County Commission has hired a Martinsburg architectural firm to develop proposals on how the former jail at the corner of George and Liberty streets can be transformed for county government operations.

For $30,480, Matt Grove of Grove & Dall'olio Architects told the commission Thursday his firm will do an evaluation of the building and develop a layout on how the building can be used.

Other items also will be evaluated, such as any emergency repairs that need to be done to the building, Grove said.

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After the work is completed, there will be a series of meetings in January and February to discuss the findings, Grove said.

The work is a preliminary step to possible renovation of the jail, which Grove & Dall'olio Architects have estimated will cost $800,000 to $1 million.

The commission had considered demolishing the jail, but an organization known as Jefferson County Alliance to Save Our Heritage formed to work on saving the jail. The group held rallies to generate support for its effort.

Advocates of saving the jail 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.

There has been discussion about having a museum in the jail, but County Commission President Rusty Morgan said Thursday he believes the jail would first be needed to provide county government office space, which is in short supply downtown.

Morgan said the use of the jail could be temporary.

"Ten years from now, I can see a museum. Right now, we need the office space," Morgan said.

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