The Latham House, front center in this aerial photo, was razed Thursday, Aug. 6 to make room for more downtown parking to be utilized by Innovation Center tenants during weekdays and the general public on weekends and special events like Festival Fridays. / Photo by Brian Bergstrom

Development Authority removes Latham House, will add more downtown parking

BUCKHANNNON – The Latham House, located at 11 Madison St., was demolished this week to begin construction on a new parking lot.

Upshur County Development Authority Executive Director Rob Hinton said the building and the property has always been owned by the Development Authority and a plan to raze the building, which happened Thursday, Aug. 6, has been in the works for some time.

“It’s been a plan for a long time to tear down the Latham House. It was just a collapsing structure, and that’s never a good thing,” Hinton said. “We’re putting a parking lot in, so we’re going to redevelop that and make it a really nice parking lot with trees and shrubs.”

He said once the UCDA finished building the Innovation Center, located at 21 E. Main St., it was planned to make the Latham House into a parking lot.

“Once we built the Innovation Center, it was always a plan to make the Latham House property a parking lot for not only the building, but also other events that happen in downtown Buckhannon,” Hinton said. “It was just a matter of being able to get the money to do that and then once we did, we could move forward.”

The new parking lot will be designated for tenants of the Innovation Center, but the lot will also be available to the public for use on the weekends and during events.

“It will be dedicated parking during business hours for the tenants we have in the Innovation Center, and then on the weekends and evenings, it’ll be open to the public, but also for Festival Fridays and any other kind of event they have at Jawbone Park,” Hinton said.

Since the house has been demolished and the project is underway, Hinton said they anticipate the lot to be finished in about 90 days.

“The demolition of the house and constructing the parking lot were part of the same project. The first stage was the demolition of the house and taking down some trees, and then they’ll start putting in drains,” Hinton said. “Then, we’ll build a parking lot, so it should be done in about 90 days.”

He said the UCDA analyzed the site and determined that because of the building’s dilapidated state and its location in the floodplain, there was nothing to be done with the house.

“Create Buckhannon tried to do something with it for a long time, and finally they decided they weren’t going to do anything with it, and it needed to be torn down,” Hinton said. “It was a liability in the city, and it really was such an eyesore.”

“It was also in the flood zone,” he added, “so there’s really limited number of things that you can do with that site to make it useful, and a parking lot seemed to be something that really made sense, with the other two parking lots that are there.”

The Latham House was named for George Robert Latham, a captain and colonel in the Union Army during the Civil War who once lived there. Create Buckhannon had wanted to restore the home as a historical site that local residents and visitors to the area could tour but eventually concluded rehabilitation and restoration was cost-prohibitive.

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