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Church's plans to tear down old house stir up some concern in Charles Town

February 18, 2008|By DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Plans by Charles Town Baptist Church officials to tear down a two-story house they own at the intersection of Mildred and Congress streets has raised concerns among some city residents who say the house is unique and should be saved.

The Rev. Wyman E. Hall, pastor of the church next door to the house along East Congress Street, said church members have decided to tear down the home after dealing with deterioration, including a front porch that is rotting, windows that are in bad shape and floors that are in poor condition.

Hall said the church cannot afford repairs that are needed, which church officials have been told would cost about $140,000.

Some city residents have been upset about the plans to tear down the house, saying the home is attractive and is in one of the town's most attractive historical settings.

"I think it's sad. It's a beautiful structure," Charles Town City Council member Michael Slover said Sunday.

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Slover said he wants to raise public awareness about the plight of the house and hopes church officials can be convinced to sell the home instead of razing it.

Slover said he does not know any history behind the house or its architecture, but he hopes to go through the inside of the house this week to learn more about it.

Hall said Sunday he does not know if church officials would reconsider tearing down the house. Any reconsideration would require a vote from the church's congregation, Hall said.

Hall said he does not think there is anything particularly unique about the home.

"It's just an old house, really," Hall said.

Hall said the church must obtain a permit from the city to tear down the house. A study determined there is some asbestos in the house, Hall said. Proper removal of the asbestos must be conducted before the razing permit can be granted to the church, he said.

The church also plans to tear down another house off Avis Street to make room for an expansion that will include a new fellowship hall, Hall said. Some asbestos also was found in that house, Hall said.

Hall said church officials purchased both houses so they could own a block area for the church and its expansion needs.

Slover expressed concern about old homes in the city not having any protection from a wrecking ball. There are protections for historic buildings in areas like Washington Street but the protections do not extend to residential areas, he said.

Houses like the one at the intersection of Congress and Mildred streets are the ones that give towns like Charles Town charm, Slover said.

"They have roles in the towns like this," Slover said.

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