Town to get $130,000 from insurance for house fire

December 14, 2006|by ANDREW SCHOTZ

WILLIAMSPORT - The town of Williamsport is getting $130,000 from its insurer for the tenant house damaged in an August fire, Clerk/Treasurer James R. Castle said Monday. Authorities believe the fire was set intentionally.

Castle said a committee is working on plans for refurbishing the historic building that is owned by the town.

Lauren A. France, 18, was charged with arson after the fire.

France, of Clear Spring, had lived at the house with her mother, Patricia. However, the town accused Patricia France of failing to meet the terms of her tenant contract. She was obligated to invest at least $50,000 in labor and materials. In return, she could live there, rent-free, for 10 years.

After a battle that lasted several months and included a court hearing and eviction order, the Frances moved out Sept. 30, 2005.

The town decided to set up a museum in the house instead of finding another curator.


Castle said a committee with representatives from the town museum and the town's building committee is working on plans to fix up the house.

If the plans cost more than the town receives through insurance, the committee might apply for grants, he said.

The house at 6 Springfield Lane was part of Springfield Farm. The property once belonged to Otho Holland Williams, who founded the town.

The front of the house might date to around the 1750s. The back, which was more heavily damaged in the fire, probably was put up in the 1800s, said Johnna Maravelis, who was helping to set up a living history museum there.

The fire was discovered early on Aug. 30.

Lauren France's case is on the Washington County Circuit Court docket Tuesday for a motions hearing. Her trial is scheduled for next month.

The charges against her, according to online court records, are: second-degree arson; first- and second-degree malicious burning; malicious destruction of property greater than $500 and less than $500; first-, third- and fourth-degree burglary; theft less than $500; and theft less than $100.

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