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Roundhouse 'friend-raiser' a success

July 08, 1999|By BRYN MICKLE

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An estimated 800 people paid $1 each last weekend to take guided tours of the B&O Roundhouse in Martinsburg, according to a member of the group that wants to restore the property.

The higher-than-expected turnout at the Roundhouse Rail Day July 3 was another signal of the community's excitement surrounding the Roundhouse restoration project, Roundhouse committee member Judy Martin said.

"This wasn't a fund-raiser so much as it was a friend-raiser," Martin said.

Berkeley County Commissioner Robert L. Burkhart agreed.

"I've said this not a county commission project, this is a county people project and that is showing more and more," Burkhart said.

Guided tours, T-shirt sales and an evening performance by the Millbrook Orchestra raised more than $6,000 for the restoration fund, Martin said.

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The Roundhouse project has already received upwards of $1 million in state and federal funds that will allow the county to buy the $190,000 property from the CSX Corp. and local developer Moncure Chatfield-Taylor.

Plans call for the county to transfer the Roundhouse to an authority that will oversee a restoration process that could cost as much as $16 million.

The project has already raised enough money to stabilize two side buildings on the property and replace roofs and windows, Roundhouse Committee Chairman CEM Martin said last week.

The Roundhouse could eventually be used for everything from conventions and trade shows to a theater and a museum, according to the committee.

The success of last weekend's day-long celebration has led to plans to make Roundhouse Rail Day an annual event, Judy Martin said.

The committee still needs to decide if the Fourth of July holiday is the best time to hold the event, Martin said.

The Millbrook Orchestra concert last weekend drew 160 people to the 550-seat Apollo Civic Theatre in Martinsburg which Martin said was pretty good considering the concert had to compete with a holiday fireworks display in nearby Sharpsburg, Md.

"It's really a catch-22. A lot of people have the time to play, but it's hard to compete with 40,000 people at Antietam," Martin said.

The committee plans one more major fund-raiser this year and has not ruled out bringing in a NASCAR driver for an autograph session next year, she said.

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