History of Charles Washington Hall
by Doug Perks
Town Founder Charles Washington set aside the four corner lots on Public Square (the intersection of George and Washington Streets) to be used for public buildings. Sometime after 1806, a three story brick building was constructed on the northwest corner and used as a market house. The building is visible in sketches made of Public Square by newspaper artists who were in Charles Town covering the trial of John Brown and his men. This building was destroyed by Union soldiers in May 1862 as they retreated through Charles Town headed to Harpers Ferry.
After the Civil War, the Town Council decided to rebuild the market house. The replacement was a two story brick building which had three rental spaces on the first floor and second floor concert hall. In April 1874, it was reported that the Town Council “selected the most appropriate name of “Charles Washington Hall” as the most fitting title for the elegant new hall in the Market-House building. This name is given in honor of Charles Washington, the founder of Charlestown, and the donor of the ground upon which all of our public buildings are erected.”
The name has outlasted the concert hall. When the Opera House opened the outdated concert hall was converted to office space. In the photograph the New Central Restaurant, which replaced the Central Restaurant in the early 1930s, was located in the west section of the first floor. Dawson’s Barber Shop occupied the eastern space. Offices on the second floor were rented to Merle Alger, Justice of the Peace, and to attorneys D[arrell] K[enneth] Koonce and Bushong & Bushong [Frank Lee Jr. & Sr.]. The City of Charles Town has recently announced plans for a $3.95 million renovation project aimed at restoring Charles Washington Hall.