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Shepherdstown’s Town Hall is unique — let’s just add on and not demolish it

By Staff | Jan 23, 2009

The Shepherdstown Register newspaper, April 22, 1948 had a front page article titled “Town to build Municipal Building” “… Mayor K.E. Eutsler announced plans for the new municipal building to be built on … King Street.

The structure will be of concrete block, 30×38 feet. The concrete block is one which Mr. L.S. Stanley is perfecting from his original design which gives the appearance of old English siding. The building will be white, one story, with steps enclosed from the street. A facade will be added to give the building proper proportions. It will contain a Council Room, Mayor’s Office, storage room and a temporary detention room in the rear of the building.”

On May 11, 1948 ,’the Building Committee was authorized to secure someone to have charge of and to supervise the construction of the town building…” On June 15, “on motion Russell White was authorized to purchase a bronze plate for the town with the inscription Town Hall 1948.”

Town Hall is unique. Of the 372 buildings listed on the 1972/1986 National Register inventory, which includes brick, stone, and log, plus asbestos shingle siding, and aluminum siding, the 61 year old building is the only “ship-lap” cast concrete building in town, although it is not listed as such.

Hagerstown Block Company was the manufacturer. Started in 1946, the company is still a family owned business. According to the founder’s daughter, the ‘ship-lap” pattern block was not commonly used in this area. One reason it was not used more often, may have been that it was more expensive than standard block.

Last spring, 2008, Erin Riebe, National Register and Survey Historian for West Virginia State Historic Office saw Town Hall, and said the 61 year old building is eligible for NR listing because it is over 50 years old and its “unique” exterior would be of interest to her office.

Last fall an architectural historian visited me and saw the building; he was unsure if he had ever seen that type of construction.

Town Hall is part of the fabric of our town.and Shepherdstown was never pretentious. Let us not start now and, instead have the current building demolition- oops, commission, design only an addition.

Let us celebrate the little unique little building.

Diana Suttenfield