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Roundhouse gets $300,000

May 03, 1999

RoundhouseBy DAVE McMILLION and BRYN MICKLE / Staff Writers

file photo




MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Berkeley County's attempt to purchase and renovate a historic B&O roundhouse off East Burke Street received a big boost Monday when U.S. Sen. Robert Byrd announced a $300,000 grant for the project.

The money will pay for renovation of the 132-year-old building and other improvements related to the project, according to Byrd's office.

But the money cannot be used for the purchase of the roundhouse.

The Roundhouse Committee, a local community group leading the effort to restore the roundhouse, still has to raise $136,000 for to buy the building from CSX, said Clarence E. "C.E.M." Martin, committee chairman.

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About $25,000 has been raised so far.

Although the money cannot be used for acquisition, Berkeley County Administrator Deborah Sheetenhelm hopes the grant will open up new funding avenues for the purchase.

"National grants put the project in the national spotlight," Martin said Monday. "They give it validation and open the door for other grants."

"It's a tremendous boost forward," added Martin, who said he doesn't see the need to extend the July 1 deadline to purchase the property.

The grant was part of $13.1 million in federal funds awarded to 35 projects across country, many of which are designed to help communities increase transportation efficiency and reduce the negative impact of transportion on the environment, according to U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater.

In Berkeley County, the money will be used to bring a building steeped in history back to life.

In 1863, Confederate troops set fire to the original roundhouse property, hoping to cut off supplies to Union forces. In 1877, the roundhouse was the focal point of the Great Railroad Strike as workers walked off their jobs due to wage cuts.

The Roundhouse Committee has considered a number of uses for the building, including a center for Civil War history and new business.

"It is my hope that the roundhouse can serve as a centerpiece in the renewal efforts in downtown Martinsburg," said Byrd, D-W.Va.

Efforts to raise money for the purchase of the roundhouse have included local performances from a Russian ballet company, and on Monday officials said they had just received $1,500 from a national historical preservation group.

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