Harrisburg historic homes future in question

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HARRISBURG (WPMT) — The two oldest homes in Harrisburg are caught in the middle of battle between those who want to preserve them, and others who may want to tear them down.

The homes at 110 and 112 Locust Street in downtown Harrisburg, believed to have been built in the early 19th century, are currently owned by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency, which took over after the houses foreclosed in May 2014. They are currently vacant. The agency is looking to expand its offices, which are located on Front Street and tower over the two historic clapboards on Locust. At an April 1 meeting, the agency discussed the possibility of tearing the homes down to build an addition onto its complex.

"We bought them from the standpoint of our construction interests," admitted Brian Hudson, executive director of the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency.

Immediately, advocates for the home sprung into action, hoping to save the historic homes.

"There was a huge outcry once the neighbors learned they might be demolished," said David Morrison of the Historic Harrisburg Association. "What I don't understand is why they can't build under one roof?"On Thursday, April 9, at a separate meeting, the PHFA, which is trying to sell the homes, agreed to lower its asking price from $175,000 to $150,000. "We won't go any lower," Hudson said. After seeing the public outcry from area residents, Hudson added the PHFA will not demolish the clapboards, despite getting approval from the city. However, the agency plans on building around 110 and 112 Locust Street, regardless and if no one decides to buy the homes off the PHFA, Hudson insists the homes will simply deteriorate. Meanwhile, Morrison and the Historic Harrisburg Association, along with Locust Street residents, will continue to fight to keep the homes standing."We're going to fight for as thorough a victory for this neighborhood as possible," Morrison said, then admitted. "I don't know how successful we will be."