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Resolution recognizes Boydville as 'historic farm'

November 30, 1999|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. ? A resolution adopted by both chambers of the West Virginia Legislature this week recognizes Boydville, a leafy antebellum estate in Martinsburg, as a historic farm as part of lawmakers' formal request that Berkeley and Jefferson counties be part of a national Civil War historic district.

Sponsored by state Sens. John Unger, D-Berkeley, John Yoder, R-Jefferson, and Clark Barnes, R-Randolph, Senate Concurrent Resolution 10 formally asks the state and federal government to recognize the counties as part of the historic Shenandoah Valley and be eligible to join the Shenandoah Valley Battlefields National Historic District.

"We would hope to get in the historic district to get more tourists to come" to our Civil War sites, Yoder said Friday.

Copies of the adopted resolution will be sent to President Bush, West Virginia's congressional delegation, Gov. Joe Manchin, and county and municipal leaders in Berkeley and Jefferson counties.

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"It would be something that would have to be done on the federal level," said Yoder, who described Civil War-related tourism as "big money."

A 2005 study by the Civil War Preservation Trust indicated visitors to Antietam National Battlefield spent more than $10 million locally per year.

Established by Congress in 1996, the existing national historic district comprises eight Virginia counties, and can receive money from certain federal programs to promote the region's Civil War story and protect at least 10 Civil War battlefields, according to the federal legislation.

In addition to Boydville, the resolution notes Martinsburg's historic B&O Roundhouse, and the fact that Berkeley and Jefferson counties were not officially annexed by the State of West Virginia until 1872 upon a ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Unger said Friday he felt Boydville deserved to be mentioned in the resolution. A House of Delegates amendment to change the description of the 13-acre estate off South Queen Street to "historic property" instead of "historic farm" ultimately was rejected by lawmakers after a back-and-forth exchange between the House and Senate this week.

A voice vote in the House to adopt the resolution happened Thursday. The Senate approved the resolution on Feb. 2, according to the Legislature's Office of Reference & Information.

Once part of a 300-acre property, Boydville now consists of a circa-1812 manor house, a law office, a barn, outbuildings and a stone fort that is believed to predate the American Revolution. It was purchased for $2.5 million by the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board in 2005, with significant financial support coming from city leaders.

Though not mentioned in the resolution, the manor house at Boydville was spared from being burned by direct order of President Lincoln during the Civil War.

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