Courthouse was county's third

August 09, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.VA. - The Morgan County Courthouse that was destroyed by fire Tuesday was the third courthouse built since the county was established in 1820, according to the Walking Tour of Berkeley Springs brochure, written by Jeanne Mozier.

The brochure describes the building as a "neo-classic of light colored pressed brick, rustic sandstone trimming and Ionic capitals on pilasters." It opened with its clock tower in September 1908, and an addition was constructed in 1923.

The previous courthouse was built on the same site in 1845, after the one at Wilkes and Fairfax streets was destroyed by fire in 1844, according to the brochure.

Maria Spencer, owner of The Bath House on Fairfax Street, said tourists will not be affected by the loss of the courthouse.


"Most tourists come to Berkeley Springs for the water," she said.

The people it will affect are those who love to visit historic buildings with beautiful architecture, she said.

"I hope the county will replace the structure with something in keeping with the character of our small town," Spencer said.

Laura Smith of Travel Berkeley Springs said tourism won't be affected because the building did not house a retail business.

"But the fact that the building has been destroyed and the architecture is gone is very sad for county residents," she said.

Smith said Tuesday's fire reminded many residents of the August 1974 fire that destroyed the Washington Hotel. That building was across the street from the courthouse.

Smith said many residents and shopkeepers helped to pull records out of the building Tuesday, and area restaurants took food and water to the firefighters.

Smith said many Berkeley Springs businesses, organizations and the school system offered space to the county commissioners for county office use.

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