The city of St. John is exploring the possibility of purchasing the town square from the county and in the process has discovered that historical records are not complete on the history of Town Square ownership.
An effort is underway for the City of St. John to purchase their town square from Stafford County. Jamie Getty, St. John city clerk, said the city's Memorial Day Weekend Jubilee has been held on the square for years along with other events. It just seemed like it was time for the city to purchase the square and not have to ask permission every time they want to use it.
"We maintained it so it seemed it was just a good idea to go ahead and move forward (with the purchase)," Getty said.
As the entities involved research this possible change in ownership, one thing is becoming clear. The historical records for the city and county are not complete.
Lu Ann Brister, Register of Deeds said the St. John Town Company owned real estate in St. John including the Town Square area. According to existing records, St. John Town Company deeded the land to the Stafford County Board of Commissioners in 1882.
What the records don't show is why the deed change happened in the first place, Brister said.
There is a lease somewhere relating to the deed change but efforts to find the deed have been unsuccessful. While the county has ownership of the square, the city maintains the property and does improvements.
But exactly why the deed change happened is unknown.
On the county side of things, the historical records are also incomplete. County Clerk Nita Keenan said they didn't have complete historical records either.
"The minutes of the time are sketchy" Keenan said.
And its not just the town square records that are incomplete. Some of the history of the Stafford County Courthouse is also unknown. The current courthouse was built in 1929. Exactly why the courthouse was built in its current location and not on the square is unknown.
"We assumed the courthouse was supposed to be built in the square," Keenan said.
That information hasn't been located. Also, there was a courthouse prior to the current one but information on what happened to that building is also not there.
As for the city purchasing the Town Square, the county attorneys are looking into the matter to determine if the purchase can even be done. The investigation into the purchase is in it's early stages and with the incomplete records, it may be some time before all this is sorted out, Keenan said.