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The room on the first floor of the Barbour County Courthouse in the little town of Eufaula, Alabama, was normally the County Clerk’s Office, but after it had closed for the day on August 2, 1957, it was being used by the county’s Board of Registrars, the body that registered citizens so they could vote in elections—not that the Board was going to register any of the three persons who were applying that day, for the skin of these applicants was black.

Why "was" and not "had been" because at the time of writing this room was not the County Clerk's Office anymore and if I use past perfect for the first verb would it be possible to use past simple for the second verb close

  • The perfect isn't really needed anywhere in that sentence because the sequence of events is obvious. It's especially unnecessary at the beginning because that's not what's in the story's focus. Remember that the perfect is used to establish a context, and in this case it was used to create a sharp transition in the narration in order to accomplish just that, overriding the previous, less important context with a new one, relevant to the discussion that follows. – userr2684291 Jun 1 '18 at 15:41
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    Also, normally should give you a hint - it hadn't stopped being the County Clerk's Office, it was just temporarily being used for something else. Had been would imply that it had permanently stopped being the County Clerk's Office. – stangdon Jun 1 '18 at 17:09

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