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Interns from Christendom begin study of Strasburg history

Mike Heffernan, 23, of Michigan, looks at paperwork on buildings in Strasburg's downtown historic district on Wednesday morning. He and political science classmates Dave Smith and Luis Adan will earn course credit at Christendom College this summer by interning with the town. Josette Keelor/Daily (Buy photo)

Marcy McCann, right, a member of the Strasburg Architectural Review Board, talks with Luis Adan, 21, of Ashburn, on Wednesday morning. (Buy photo)

Dave Smith, 20, of Connecticut, looks at paperwork on buildings in Strasburg's downtown historic district at the Town Hall on Wednesday morning. He and political science classmates Mike Heffernan and Luis Adan will earn course credit at Christendom College this summer by interning with the town. Josette Keelor/Daily (Buy photo)

By Josette Keelor

STRASBURG -- This summer three political science students from Christendom College will earn class credit studying Strasburg's historic buildings.

Mike Heffernan, Dave Smith and Luis Adan began their program study Wednesday at the Town Hall where they will compile data on the town's historic district with Marcy McCann, a member of the town's Architectural Review Board.

It's been 30 years since the town took great strides in updating property files on its historic district, according to Town Manager Judson Rex. The initial inventory of downtown historic district buildings took place in 1984.

"Over a 30-year period, definitely there's been some changes," Rex said.

The project will help the town plan how it can revisit the files made in 1984, Rex said, "and do it in a way that's sensitive to the character of the historic district."

As project head, McCann said the town's goal is to collect new information on downtown buildings, including photos, maps and architectural style changes. She said all historic districts should have such inventory files.

"At this point what we're documenting mostly is the actual architecture and the footprints of the buildings over time," she said. "This is something that the town should have forever and should be a resource for decades to come."

She said the interns' work also will help make tax incentives more readily available through national and state historic districts.

"Our job is to educate the public on the value of their own history and support the local citizens if they are interested in purchasing or applying for these credits," said McCann.

Also helping with the project are Boy Scouts of America Troop 5, whose members have begun labeling file folders the town supplied. They plan to contribute another 300 Monday evening.

Rex said the summer program grew from a need to build upon the work started in the 1980s and that interested Christendom students responded after Strasburg Mayor Tim Taylor contacted the Catholic college in Front Royal.

"[The interns are] a great resource and help to us," Rex said. "It's very exciting to get some young folks engaged in a program like this.

The students, all rising seniors at Christendom, plan to intern on Tuesdays and Wednesdays for the next few weeks, after which they might change around their schedules. Besides helping the town, they said they will earn six course credits through the Politics Practica Internship Program and gain experience through their research and through interactions with town officials.

On their first morning, while Adan, 21, and Smith, 20, noted photos and paperwork already filed, Heffernan, 23, set out on foot to discover the physical changes to historic buildings around town.

"I think it will be a good experience," he said.

Smith agreed: "Hopefully we're going to be able to do some good work."

Contact Community Engagement Editor Josette Keelor at 540-465-5137, ext. 176, or jkeelor@nvdaily.com

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