Fire Destroys Historic Alms House at Shenandoah County Farm

MAURERTOWN — Two occupants escaped a fire that destroyed a historic house at the Shenandoah County Farm, known locally as the Alms House.

Smoke alarms alerted the residents to the fire early Sunday morning, April 13, and they escaped through a first floor window. One was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries from going out the window.

Dispatchers alerted fire and rescue units to the fire at 5:42 a.m.

When firefighters arrived, they initially entered the building to search for occupants, but stopped the search when they got word that everyone was already out. By that time the fire had grown so large that firefighters could only fight the blaze from outside the building.

The building, at 192 County Farm Lane in Maurertown, was being used for transitional housing managed by Shenandoah Alliance for Shelter. It is owned by Shenandoah County, and has been since it was deeded to the county in 1798 with the purpose of serving the poor.

An assessment lists the building’s construction date as 1764, and the records from the Shenandoah County Historical Society show that there were additions in 1829 and 1850, bringing it to more than 8,000 square feet.

“It’s not just the loss of a county structure,” said Mary Beth Price, county administrator for Shenandoah County. “It’s the loss of a historic county structure.”

“It’s a huge loss,” she said.

The County Farm is in an area without fire hydrants, so fire crews had to truck water to the scene.

No cause has been determined, and the county fire marshal is investigating the fire.

Fire and rescue units responded to the fire from Toms Brook, Woodstock, Strasburg, Edinburg, Middletown, Conicville, Orkney Springs, and Shenandoah County Department of Fire and Rescue. Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office and Virginia Department of Transportation helped with traffic control.


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