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Morgan County Courthouse door adorned for one last Christmas

December 10, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - A large holiday wreath hangs on the Morgan County Courthouse door one last time.

The building is facing demolition - but fortunately, not before Christmas.

The 1908 building on the corner of Washington and Fairfax streets was destroyed in an Aug. 8 fire, and is closed off with orange mesh fencing. The attached buildings in the courthouse complex also were destroyed.

Morgan County Administrator Bill Clark said when he met with Foxglove Garden Club member Beth Peters Curtin about holiday decorations, he figured the courthouse would be demolished by Christmas. He said nothing should be put on the courthouse, even the wreath, because of safety issues.

When the garden club began decorating for Christmas, Morgan County Commissioner Tommy Swaim, whose wife, Janie, is a garden club member, said since the courthouse would not be demolished in December, he said he felt a wreath should be placed on the door.

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"There was no reason not to put one there," Swaim said. "I think it belongs there."

Every year, the Foxglove Garden Club decorates the courthouse complex buildings and the Fairfax Green, which is the island in the center of Fairfax Street across from the complex, said Curtin, who chaired the decorations committee this year.

Curtin said the garden club traditionally decorates these areas and other public buildings in town such as the public library and the old train depot where Foxglove members maintain an herb garden.

She said Clark did not want anyone going inside the orange-fenced hazard area around the courthouse because the building is not safe.

He asked the garden club to decorate the modular housing units that are the temporary county offices since they would not be decorating the courthouse, Curtin said.

The club had wreaths placed on the ends of the modular housing units that are set up in the courthouse parking lot, Curtin said.

Curtin said the club also decorated the bridge railing on Washington Street, just north of the courthouse.

Curtin said they had one wreath left over - the big one that used to be placed on the Morgan County Commission window. She said the company that supplies them with the wreaths inadvertently included the large wreath this year.

Clark said Kenny Easton, who maintains the county offices and hangs the wreaths every year on its buildings, placed the wreath on the courthouse door.

"It's nice the Christmas wreath was placed there," Curtin said. "It was meant to be."

"I worked in that building for more than 30 years and I miss the building," said Bill Harmison, an attorney whose office is across from the courthouse on Washington Street. "It's nice to see the tradition of our wreath hanging on the courthouse door."

The wreath caused a lot of discussion, Clark said.

"There is spirit here," he said. "It was the right thing to do."

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