By Cathy Kuehner

A piece of Berryville history has been repurposed, and a beloved and dedicated Town employee is forever honored. In mid-March, a Town of Berryville Public Works crew installed an old iron window guard from the Berryville passenger train station at the Main Street entrance to Hogan’s Alley.

R. John Hogan began working for Clarke County government in 1978 as a zoning administrator and special ordinance administrator. In 1984, he became Berryville’s part-time zoning administrator before accepting the full-time Town Manager position in April 1985. He died of cancer on Nov. 19, 1997, at age 52.

In May 1998, the Town of Berryville officially named the alley between 15 and 19 W. Main Street “Hogan’s Alley.”

An article about Hogan’s passing in the Nov. 26, 1997, edition of the Clarke Courier newspaper notes he “was everybody’s friend.” He was committed to serving every resident as well as helping each co-worker. Because he became Town Manager on April 1, the article notes Hogan was fond of practical jokes, too.

More than a century before John Hogan arrived in Berryville, the first railway station was built north of Main Street along First Street, opposite the Berryville Farm Supply store. That station handled both freight and passengers until 1910.

In 1910, Norfolk Southern — then Norfolk and Western — built a passenger station south of Main Street along Station Avenue, opposite the big gristmill, while the First Street station continued to receive freight.

The Norfolk Southern Corporation demolished the Berryville train station on July 2, 1990, as was its right. For two years prior, the Berryville-Clarke County Chamber of Commerce negotiated with the corporation for possession of the circa-1910 station to create a visitors’ center. Norfolk Southern was willing to donate the brick building but not its land, and a brick building is difficult and expensive to move.

After the station was demolished, souvenir hunters gathered bricks and other bits of the train station, including its heavy iron window guards.

Coincidentally, one of the window guards ended up at Hip and Humble, a shop that occupies the mill that sits opposite the Berryville passenger station site.

Last year, Berryville Main Street, a not-for-profit organization that promotes the town, acquired the 45-by78-inch iron window guard from Hip & Humble. All costs for the Hogan’s Alley improvements are covered by a $12,500 grant from the Virginia Department of Community Development and $3,500 in matching funds from Berryville Main Street. Tax money was not used.But, most important, more people are aware of John Hogan and can see a bit of Berryville history as they stroll along Main Street.