Report: Brown building in need of repairs

STRASBURG – When it comes to the Brown building on King Street, Town Council has its hands full.

At its work session Tuesday night, Town Manager Ryan Spitzer shared a report on the building produced by town architects.

According to the report, should the town opt to preserve the 120-year-old home, it will need to reshingle the roof, reattach the back deck, replace several doors, fix the floor upstairs, install a new ventilation system, rewire the house (pending on its use), and redo the rear entrance to make it handicap accessible.

“That’s where we’re at now,” Spitzer said. “Our architects are looking at the structure to see how much it would cost to rehab it and to see if it’s worth it.”

Spitzer said costs for the work will likely be made available at council’s next work session in two weeks.

In an August meeting, council voted to purchase the building for $100,000. It has 60 days from the close of the contract (Sept. 30) to repurpose the historic building before demolition plans are enacted.

Throwing a fork in repurposing plans, Spitzer said the public will only be able to use the main floor of the building because the top floor is not handicap accessible. Thus, only eight to 10 citizens will be able to use the building at a given time, unless the town pays out to install an elevator or lift system.

Despite the report, two citizens commented after the report urging the town to repurpose, refurbish and maintain the building.

Joan Williams said among other uses, the main floor could be used as a meeting place for community groups.

“The Brown house is a contributing house to the historic district,” she said. “We should think long and hard before demolishing a heritage home in favor of a few more square feet in our third and newest park. Preservation of historic buildings is a one-way street. There is no chance to renovate or restore a historic building once it’s gone.”

Linda Wheeler also spoke at the meeting, advocating for the preservation of the house.

Town Council will discuss the matter further at its work session Oct. 17. The town has to decide whether it will preserve the building or demolish it by Nov. 29, as per the motion passed in its August meeting.

Contact staff writer Jake Zuckerman at 540-465-5137 ext. 152, or