Months after a contract dispute delayed the sale of Vienna's historic Moorefield House to a local resident, town officials are close to accepting a $5,000 bid that guarantees restoration of the dilapidated building to its 18th-century appearance.
The proposed contract calls for restoration of the house by a specialist, a certificate of authenticity after the restoration, a commitment that the current and future property owners will maintain the house in its restored condition, and a prohibition on additions to the building.
"We gave the council everything it wanted," said prospective buyer Betty S. Hurd, a Vienna resident and Arlington County art teacher.
Hurd and Goodwin H. Taylor, an Arlington electrical consultant, offered the original $5,000 contract in May 1984 when Vienna first advertised the sale of the historic house.
The council rejected Hurd and Taylor's bid last June because the couple did not guarantee that the house would be redesigned to its original post-Revolutionary War design.
"It's beneficial to the town to have the property maintained and restored, because it's a point of historic interest," said Mayor Charles A. Robinson Jr. "It would also improve the appearance of the neighborhood."
The three-quarter acre property, located in the Moorefield town house subdivision off Nutley Road, was the home of Jeremiah Moorefield, a Baptist minister who owned a 600-acre farm in the 1790s in what is now Vienna.
The house has been vacant for 20 years and Robinson estimated that it would take about $350,000 for the town to restore the weather-damaged, rickety, two-story structure.
The house was given to the town in 1975 for $1 by Moorefield developer John DeLuca.
Council member Robert Robinson, who objected to the proposed sale, said that selling the house for $5,000 was "in essence, giving the property away."
" Hurd and Taylor will take it and get a large tax credit for restoration," he said, "and I feel that's your money and my money. They're using the house as a personal gain."
Robinson said he would rather demolish the house, give the land to the subdivision homeowners to maintain, and put a marker noting the house's history on the site.
"If the people purchasing the house offered $50,000, I might accept or consider what they're doing," he said. "Otherwise, the town ought to maintain it as a park."
"Oh, he'd rather burn it down than let me have it," Hurd said of Robinson after a Sept. 16 meeting with town officials. "He's afraid I'll make some money on it at some nebulous point in the future."
Hurd and Taylor said that they would put up a $200,000 bond to insure completion of the restoration project.
If they default on the project, the town could use the bond money to finish the work.
Mayor Robinson said he, too, would rather the town retain ownership of the property than sell it for only a "nominal consideration," but added that the sale is "better than allowing it to sit there and deteriorate."
A public hearing is scheduled on the sale no later than November.