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March 11, 2017

Town council reconsiders museum at Brentmoor

File Photo/Cassandra Brown
At least three town council members want to give the Brentmoor Trust a chance to operate a successful museum in the 19th century home.
I say we lease it out to the Brentmoor Trust. At least give them a chance for a year and, if that doesn’t work out, my only other choice is to sell it.
— Councilman Jerry Wood
Brentmoor Property
• Size: 3.06 acres

• Where: Main and North Calhoun streets, Warrenton.

• Owner: Town of Warrenton.

• Purchased: For $460,000 in February 1999 for development of John S. Mosby Museum.

• House: Brentmoor, 4,200-square-foot Italianate, built in 1850, converted to museum with donations and grants.

• Visitor center: Two-story brick structure that the town built in 2006 at 33 N. Calhoun St., behind Brentmoor.

• Assessed value: $1.12 million total for county tax purposes. Property is tax-exempt.

• Appraised value: $1.17 million for the visitor center and historic Brentmoor.
By .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
Staff Journalist
At least three of seven Warrenton Town Council members want to give the Brentmoor house another shot as a museum.

For more than a year, Warrenton officials have pondered the town-owned, Main Street property’s future after the Mosby Museum’s closure.

Council members could make a decision on what to do with the property Tuesday, March 14.

They will consider four options:

• Lease the house to a nonprofit to operate as a museum.

• Subdivide the Mosby House property from the Warrenton-Fauquier Visitor Center and sell it. The house could sell for about $574,000, according to a recent appraisal.

• Convert the visitor center on Calhoun Street to town offices and remodel the adjacent 4,200-square-foot Brentmoor for a visitor center, with offices and, possibly, historical displays at an estimated cost of $700,000.

• Do nothing. The house costs the town about $6,000 a year to operate.

Jerry Wood (Ward 1) hopes Brentmoor can get another chance as a museum.

“I say we lease it out to the Brentmoor Trust,” Mr. Wood said during Thursday night’s council work session. “At least give them a chance for a year and, if that doesn’t work out, my only other choice is to sell it.”

The Brentmoor Trust, under the leadership of former Councilman Birge Watkins and Bob Dyer, last month drafted a business plan to operate the Mosby Museum.

“I think they have a viable business plan,” Councilman Sean Polster (At-large) said.

“I agree with Sean and Jerry,” Bob Kravetz (Ward 4) said. “We should have Brannon (Godfrey, town manager) and Whit (Robinson, town attorney) negotiate a lease agreement with the Brentmoor Trust and get this over with.”

But, at least two council members suggested selling the house.

“We know for a fact that house museums are not surviving anywhere in the U.S.” Sunny Reynolds (At-large) said. “I think we should consider putting it on the market for two to three months.”

Ms. Reynolds suggested a public hearing on the property’s future.

“I’m more inclined to put it on the market for lease or sale,” Kevin Carter (Ward 5) said.

The town purchased the historic Italianate home for $460,000 in 1999.

A $1-million historical renovation — funded with donations and grants — converted it from a private home to a museum, which operated from 2013 to 2015.

In other matters during its monthly meeting Tuesday night, March 14, the council will:

• Conduct a public hearing on the proposed traffic circle or “roundabout” at Falmouth Street and East Shirley Avenue in front of Walmart.

• Conduct a public hearing on the Chilton House application for a special use permit to operate a bed and breakfast at 97 Culpeper St.

• Conduct a public hearing on a text amendment to the town’s leash law. The amendment would require citizens to keep dogs on a leash in the town, except when on the owner or caretaker’s property.

• Discuss the possible appropriation of $40,000 in parks and recreation proffers for the dog park planed near the south end of Fifth Street, along the Warrenton Branch Greenway.

The meeting will begin at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Town Hall.

Town council meeting agenda 3/14/17 by Fauquier Now on Scribd

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