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Proposed committee would study Alms House renovation

July 12, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN

Hagerstown city officials want to start an exploratory committee to save the historic Alms House from further deterioration.

Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer said the committee, in part, would research possibilities to fund the project.

Ideally, she said the money would come from donations and grants.

"My hope is not to use (city funding)," she said.

The Alms house, built in the 1790s on North Locust Street, served as a hospital for wounded soldiers after the Battle of Gettysburg and as a poor house, among other things.

The house, which the city bought in 2004 for $90,000, is abandoned.

Cromer said the proposed committee probably would include city officials, developers, members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and other people interested in Civil War history.

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Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh said she intends to be a part of the committee and suggested converting the property into a Civil War museum.

Nigh said she isn't certain what the city would have to do to save the house.

"The committee would look at all of the hurdles," she said.

One of the subjects that the committee might research is whether the multi-story house, if opened as a museum, would have to undergo major structural overhauls to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

She also said that any developers named to the committee should be concerned with restoring the house, rather than redeveloping it.

Jerry Bayer, a Harpers Ferry resident and member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, said the organization doesn't have a lot of money to help out financially, but he would be willing to join the committee.

"It's going to need a super cleaning out ... (But) the city and state should try to save the house," he said.

To learn more about joining the committee to save the Alms House, call Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh at 301-790-3839.

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