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Whitehaven Hotel gets $20,000

State funds to be used for restoration

October 10, 1996

By TRACY SAHLER, Daily Times Staff writer

WHITEHAVEN - The dream of restoring a more than 100-year-old hotel here became a reality Wednesday.

The Maryland Board of Public Works approved a plan for spending $200,000 in state and private funds on the project clearing the way for work to begin on the Whitehaven Hotel as soon as the end of November. Making the old hotel usable as a modern bed-and-breakfast -- with its rural location, history and riverfront setting as attractions -- while maintaining its historic character will take around $500,000 and at least a couple of years.

"We are just really elated that we're finally going to move into fixing this building up," said K. King Burnett, president of Wicomico County Historical Properties, which owns the hotel and will shepherd it through much of its restoration.

Restoration of the hotel will ill be a public-private venture, with state funds covering $140,000 of the work and private funds being used for the rest. Once all the state funds have been spent, Wicomico Historical Properties will turn the property over to Heron Properties, which is providing the private funds.

It is unusual for the state to allow the transfer of property within 15 years of the use of a restoration grant, and its agreement to the transfer shows its confidence in the plan for the hotel's rehabilitation and the people who drafted it, said Michael Day, chief of the Office of Preservation Services of the Maryland Historical Trust. Wednesday's decision by the Board of Public Works came after four years of preparation.

"There's no question now something is going to happen, Day said. "We know that it's going to happen, and it's going to happen quickly."

The Board of Public Works said $100,000 in private matching funds must be spent before the state's $100,000 restoration grant could be used. The same restriction applies to a $40,000 grant from the Maryland Historical Trust. That grant has not yet been matched.

The hotel's foundation will be worked on first, Burnett said. It must be replaced and the building must be raised slightly to be out of the flood plain. Work will then be done on the roof, and after that on the building itself.

Reprinted with permission of The Daily Times (Salisbury, MD)

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