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Hagerstown City Council considers whether to fix historic Alms House

September 19, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- The Hagerstown City Council is considering whether to spend $40,000 to fix code violations on the exterior of the historic Alms House on North Locust Street.

The council failed to reach an agreement Tuesday on a long-term plan for the abandoned structure that was built in the late 18th century and served as a hospital during the Civil War. The city bought the property in 2004 for $95,000.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said Tuesday that the city had two options -- demolish the Alms House or pay a lot of money to maintain it.

Some of the code violations include damaged sidewalks, deteriorated masonry and broken windows, according to public documents.

A private tour of the house last year showed that animals were living inside.

Last year, Councilwomen Kelly S. Cromer and Penny M. Nigh suggested restoring the house and using it as a Civil War museum.

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That idea, which would have cost about $379,000, fell through because private investors didn't show enough interest.

"I thought we were on the way there," Nigh said Thursday. "I obviously was wrong."

Bayer said another option would be to keep the house intact and build public parking spaces in front of and behind the building at a cost of about $90,000.

The council rejected that proposal.

City Engineer Rodney Tissue said city staff will use the council meeting next week to present plans to abate the code violations. Staff also will discuss trying to find ways to form a private-public partnership to restore the building, Tissue said.

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