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Roundhouse roofs to be replaced

December 07, 1999|By DAVE McMILLION, Charles Town

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - The next step in saving the B&O Roundhouse complex will be replacing two badly deteriorating roofs, and project leaders hope to do it before the worst winter weather sets in.

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Heavy precipitation such as wet snow could further damage the roofs, but the complex should make it through the winter, officials said at a Tuesday night meeting of the Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority.

"The long and short of it is we need to keep that wood dry," said Mathew Grove, a Martinsburg architect.

New metal roofs will be installed on the bridge and machine shop and the "frog and switch" shop, said Lisa M. Dall'olio, Grove's wife, who is also a Martinsburg architect working on the renovation of the roundhouse.

The roof on the roundhouse is only about 15 years old and does not need immediate replacement, Dall'olio said.

But roofs on the other two buildings have deteriorated so badly light can be seen through them, Dall'olio said.

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Although it is the roundhouse itself that catches most everyone's eye, the other two buildings are massive structures as well. The bridge and machine shop measures 60 feet by 180 feet and the frog and switch shop is 100 feet by 200.

Installation of new roofs on the buildings should start within two weeks, said Clarence E. "Cem" Martin, chairman of the Roundhouse Authority.

It will take between four and six weeks to complete the work, although workers will not be able to get on top of the buildings if it snows, Dall'olio said.

About $1.2 million in grants have been obtained to purchase and renovate the roundhouse complex, which was used for maintenance of steam locomotives starting in the 1860s.

Although the East Martin Street landmark could serve a number of purposes once it is renovated, authority members say a center for the performing arts will be one of its main purposes.

On Sunday, about 500 people came to The Apollo Civic Theatre for a local performance of Public Radio's "Mountain Stage" music show. The lively performance at the theater, located just up the street from the roundhouse, raised about $13,000 for renovation of the complex, authority members said.

Roundhouse authority member Larue Frye said the performance offered "just a microcosm" of the acts that can be expected at the roundhouse.

Construction crews have been clearing trees and heavy brush that have grown up through and beside the roundhouse buildings. Some debris, such as nails, has flattened tires of tractors doing construction work, and authority members discussed Tuesday night using a commercial magnet to remove metal debris from the site.

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