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City officials only attendees at Alms House hearing

November 25, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN -- Hagerstown city officials were the only people to attend a public hearing Tuesday to discuss whether to assign a landmark designation to the historic Alms House.

If approved by the City Council at a later date, a landmark designation would require the Hagerstown Historic District Commission to approve exterior work on the vacant property, which was built in the late 18th century and served as a hospital during the Civil War.

The city bought the building in November 2004 for $90,000, according to city documents.

The City Council has debated the fate of the Alms House for more than a year.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said last month that he opposed giving the Alms House landmark status because the council didn't need to be given direction by members of the Historic District Commission. In addition, he said, properties often require expensive maintenance after they become historic landmarks.

On Tuesday, however, Metzner said he would support giving the Alms House a landmark designation because the city would not be financially obligated.

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Councilwomen Kelly S. Cromer and Penny M. Nigh said they have always supported efforts to save the Alms House.

"I'll support it with my blood," Nigh said. "It should be part of our Civil War history."

Councilwoman Alesia D. Parson-McBean said she would support measures to save the Alms House if private citizens stepped forward and formed a nonprofit organization.

Councilman Martin E. Brubaker said he wanted to preserve the "historic aspects" of the house, but was more interested in finding private investors.

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