Two buildings face wrecking ball

January 08, 1997


Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Two downtown Martinsburg buildings, one dating from before the Civil War, began feeling the wrecker's ball this week as crews started to demolish the structures to eventually make room for a new Berkeley County judicial complex.

The Berkeley County Commissioners, which own the buildings at 123-127 W. King St., are paying a wrecking contractor $80,000 to take them both down, said Deborah Sheetenhelm, county administrator. The other building was built in the early 20th century.

The spot where the buildings are currently located will initially be used to create more parking.

Until recently, the buildings housed the county health department and other county offices, but they were in such poor condition that they were vacated, county officials have said.


The City of Martinsburg's Historical Review Commission denied the county permission to raze the buildings, one of which dates back to 1850, said commission member and local historian Don C. Wood. The City Council overruled the historical panel and allowed the demolition.

The demolition is part of an ongoing plan to modernize government offices. It includes the purchase and renovation of two bank buildings at 110 and 126 W. King St. Those buildings are now home to the Berkeley County Commission, the assessor's office, the sheriff's tax department, circuit court clerk offices and a new circuit courtroom.

Also finished is the renovation of a county-owned building across the street at 119 W. King St. that houses planning and engineering offices.

Razing the two buildings plus putting a new roof on one of the bank buildings is the next phase. After that, finances permitting, the county will tackle a five-year task of renovating the main Berkeley County Courthouse building on Public Square "floor by floor," Sheetenhelm said.

The county's holdings include both sides of the first block of West King Street with the exception of the Martinsburg/Berkeley County Public Library, a law office building and another smaller building on the corner of King and College streets. The county owns a two-story building at 212 S. College St. that housed planning and engineering and is now being used for storage. The three-story, old John Street School Building on the corner of College and John streets is also part of the county's inventory. The building houses magistrate court.

Sheetenhelm said the final phase will be a new county judicial center to house both circuit courtrooms and judges' chambers, the circuit clerk's office, the four magistrate courts and related functions. That building would take up some of the land being freed by the demolition of the West King Street buildings, she said.

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