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Town Hall plans moving forward

By Staff | Jul 17, 2009

Architect Andy Singletary, right, meets with members of the Shepherdstown Historic Landmarks Commission about the design for the new Town Hall. Photo by Michael Theis

The new Town Hall has taken on its final appearance, at least on paper.

Monday, the Shepherdstown Historic Landmark Committee approved plans drawn up by the Town Hall Construction Committee to demolish the current Town Hall at 104 N. King St. and in its place construct a new municipal center consisting of an unfinished rock foundation, brick facade, a steel and glass entrance canopy, brass signage, a flagpole and a sheet metal roof.

The approval of the HLC essentially locks down the appearance and materials of the exterior of the proposed Town Hall. The application, filed by the Town Hall Construction Committee, and Monday’s presentation was the culmination of six months of work by the THCC. For over an hour and half, HLC members listened and asked questions of Andy Singleterry, the architect designing the structure. THCC members had spent many days comparing brick samples to each other, and to prominent downtown buildings.

“A lot of thought has gone into materials,” said Susan Nash, acting chair of the HLC, after the meeting. “The presentation was very thorough, very carefully thought through.”

The THCC also examined the possibility of preserving the current Town Hall in part or in whole. This option was discarded over concerns that the existing structure would shift if the load of a second floor was placed on it, increased construction costs, confusing entrance schemes, and a lack of ground-level access in the current building. Instead, the current Town Hall’s distinctive sloped concrete blocks will be incorporated into the entryway of the new Town Hall.

Architect Andy Singletary holds the wood model of the proposed Shepherdstown Town Hall building. Photo by Michael Theis

The most modern feature of the building is probably a small steel and glass canopy overhanging the front entrance along King Street. It is designed to provide additional public gathering space, which would not fit inside the current proposed footprint.

A provision of the decision also mandates that Shepherdstown thoroughly document the current Town Hall according to US Government Historic American Building Survey standards. Nash noted that this building was the only one of its kind in Shepherdstown. “I regret losing such a unique building,” Nash said. “The architectural mixture of Shepherdstown is part of what makes this town unique.”

The proposal put forth by the Town Hall Construction committee still needs to get the approval of the Shepherdstown Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals before construction can begin.

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Robert Proudman – a Washington Street resident looking to replace his half slate, half metal roof with a completely new sheet metal roof – was told by the Historic Landmarks Committee to explore options such as repairing the existing slate roof, or installing a new slate roof. The matter is complicated by the fact that Proudman is seeking to refinance his home, and a bank appraiser said that in order to refinance, Proudman must replace his existing roof with a new all-metal one.

A rednering of the proposed King Street facade of Town Hall

“The word of a bank appraiser telling us to replace the roof holds no weight with me,” said acting HLC chair Nash, eliciting chuckles from the assembled.

She was making a point that while banks may be good at assessing the monetary values of a structure, her committee is primarily concerned with historic value.

A motion put forward by Nash essentially asks for a second opinion, exploring a slate repair or replacement option, and inquired if the bank would agree to a slate repair option for the refinancing requirement, which was unknown as of Monday’s meeting.

Proudman was not present at the meeting.