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Former hotel is ready to rent

February 10, 2005|by CANDICE BOSELY

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. - In one of the rooms of the old Berkeley Hotel in Martinsburg, there's a metal device, which resembles an eye bolt, attached to the floor under a window.

City Manager Mark Baldwin remembers being told what it was once used for, but its purpose had escaped him when he gave a tour of the building Wednesday afternoon.

Regardless, when the hotel was restored recently the bolt was left there and now could be a conversation piece for the tenant who leases that suite of rooms.

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Restoration of the Martin Street building, which overlooks the Roundhouse complex across the railroad tracks, was finished in December. Now, city officials are looking for tenants interested in renting four suites in the circa-1849 building.

Suites range in size. The smallest consists of two rooms and 260 square feet, while the largest, the "Penthouse" suite, has five rooms and 1,055 square feet.

Open houses for prospective tenants are scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 17, from 6 to 8 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 19, from 10 a.m. to noon. Space will be leased at an annual rate of $12 per square foot.

Built in 1849 by Washington Kroeson, the former hotel was known over the years as the Depot House, the National Hotel and the Berkeley Hotel. The building survived the Civil War fires of 1861, and is the oldest intact example of American Hotel architecture in the country, according to an information booklet compiled by the city.

The building ceased being used as a hotel in 1925, and was condemned in 1992. The city stepped in a couple of years later and bought the former hotel and surrounding acreage, with restoration plans in mind.

Eventually $855,000 in federal grant money was obtained, with the city kicking in another $395,000 in matching funds.

Workers with Callas Contractors Inc., based in Hagerstown, began construction in late 2003 and finished in December 2004. Grove and Dall'Olio, an architecture firm based in Martinsburg, oversaw the project.

The building's second and third floors must be offered to officials with the George Washington Heritage Trail Association, since a commitment from that organization to move into the building helped the city obtain additional federal funding, Baldwin said.

The first floor, which formerly housed a florist's shop, could again be used as retail space. In the mid-1990s, when the Caperton Train Station was built adjacent to the former hotel, the first floor of the hotel was restored, but the upper six floors were not.

Until recently, they were dirty and stuffy, with exposed skeletal framework, chipped paint and some rotten floorboards.

Now the upper floors contain modern full-glass suite entryways and concealed wiring, a concealed fire alarm system, a concealed sprinkler system and a new, concealed heating and cooling system.

As many original features as possible were left intact, including pine flooring, decorative woodwork, doors and transoms and fireplaces.

An elevator and a new, second stairway were added to bring the building up to code, Baldwin said.

City Councilman Richard Yauger, chairman of the city's train station committee, said he stopped by the building at least once a week during the construction last year.

A number of professionals likely could use the office spaces, he said, including an attorney, insurance company employee, a sales representative or someone who works with computers, among others.

"I think it's fantastic," he said of the finished building. "I think it's an asset to the community and to the city."

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