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Sharpsburg might go on National Register

February 24, 2009|By DAVE McMILLION

SHARPSBURG -- Sharpsburg is moving along in its attempt to put the town on the National Register of Historic Places, the federal government's official list of historic properties determined to be worth preserving.

On Monday night, the Sharpsburg Historical Society, which is heading up the project, talked about the status of the proposal during one of its meetings.

Some people have felt that Sharpsburg's inclusion on the registry would have been an obvious move, but Vernell Doyle said one reason she thinks it has not occurred is because people have fears about possible restrictions that could be placed on their properties under the program.

Mayor Hal R. Spielman said the National Register of Historic Places is simply a registry of historical sites and it does not have any affect on property owners' ability to make changes to their homes.

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The registry can be a benefit to property owners, Doyle, vice president of the Sharpsburg Historical Society, said during the meeting at Sharpsburg Town Hall.

For instance, being listed on the register can provide property owners with tax credits when they make improvements to historic properties, according to information about the registry.

Some people might own historical homes in town that need improvements but the required work is too expensive for them, Doyle said.

Those whose properties are listed on the registry can qualify for state and federal tax credits to help offset the cost of property improvements, Doyle said.

"It will help residents and I support anything that will help the residents," Spielman said.

The Maryland Historical Trust has approved the town's inclusion on the registry, so now the decision rests in the hands of the federal government, said Spielman, who was at Monday's meeting.

Although the town will be on the historic register, some homes will not be included on the list since they are newer homes, Spielman said.

Spielman said the town council has not taken a stance on the project, although he felt most members would support anything that benefits town residents.

Doyle said she has been told that approval of the town's inclusion on the registry could come late this year.

Sharpsburg is nationally significant for its role in the Battle of Antietam. Although much of the Civil War battle occurred on farm fields east of town, two town churches were used by snipers and many houses in town were used to house wounded soldiers.

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