Historic Charles Washington Hall: Civic centerpiece for Charles Town and Ranson?

Two principal goals of the Ranson Renewed/Charles Town Connected project intersect on the historic corner of Washington and George Streets in Charles Town. That’s the site of Charles Washington Hall.

Looking down on Washington Street from the currently closed off upper floor of Charles Washington Hall.

           

The building that now occupies that space dates back to 1874, after fires destroyed previous structures. And two of the workshop’s three teams are collaborating on plans for a rehabilitation effort that will accomplish two things at once:

Return the Hall to its status as a major gathering space for civic meetings and entertainment for the citizens of Ranson and Charles Town; and provide a central location for connecting local commuters to regional transit.

“You can arrive by foot or bike from the nearby historic neighborhoods or be dropped off by car,” says Rick Hall, of Hall Planning & Engineering, who is leading the project transportation team. “You can get a cup of coffee and a Danish, then get on a bus or van that takes you to the rail stop. From this commuter center, you can be connected to the entire Mid-Atlantic and Northeastern rail corridor.”

Ranson and Charles Town are already preferred relocation destinations for Washington DC regional workers looking for small town options to high-priced living in more intensely developed areas. Many drive cars from the two towns to Harper’s Ferry to catch the commuter train. Improving the transit connection, while revitalizing an historic downtown building for uses during extended hours, could be a winning strategy for everyone.

On Saturday afternoon, September 10, the other project team associated with the Charles Washington Hall effort — Stromberg/Garrigan & Associates — led a tour of the Hall building. Though currently in a state of disrepair, the structure yielded hints of a rich history, especially with narrative help from preservation architect Terry Necciai and team leader Sean Garrigan. Click on the video for a glimpse of the possibilities.

You can sense how the Charles Washington Hall project fits within the broader goals of the Ranson/Charles Town project by reading the overview to the immediate right and following the progress of the workshop in the posts preceding this one.

By Wednesday evening, when the project team presents its rough drafts of plans for the combined effort, ideas for returning Charles Washington Hall to its formal civic role will be more fully fleshed out. Check here for time and location for the wrap-up session.