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New Boarman owners mull bed and breakfast

January 11, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER

martinsburg@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - One of Martinsburg's oldest downtown buildings could become one of its newest inns.

The new owners of the historic Rear Admiral Charles Boarman House, which is on the southeast corner of the intersection of King and Queen streets, say they are considering plans to turn the 200-year-old house into a bed and breakfast once they complete renovations.

The house was purchased in October by Leesburg, Va., residents Chester and Jeanne Martin, who received approval from the city's Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday for a special exception that will allow the house to be used as a residence.

The couple say they plan to live in the house, which until last year housed the offices of the Arts Centre.

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"The attractive thing about the Boarman House is it has not one blade of grass," said Martin, who sold his 12-acre farm in Virginia to buy the property.

Martin, who said he grew up just more than a city block away from the state capital in Harrisburg, Pa., said he is not deterred by living in the middle of town.

He said as he prepared to purchase the house, he noted that the city had no currently operating bed and breakfasts.

"We just thought it might be fun," his wife said in an interview after the meeting.

The couple plan to entertain guests in the house, and hope to hold "music nights" regularly, Jeanne Martin said.

"It's a great place to have to invite people," she said.

While there have been questions about the brick building's origin- some records place its date of construction as far back as 1776 - Berkeley County Historical Society President Don C. Wood said the house dates to about 1802, making it younger than the city's Adam Stephen House, but still one of the oldest structures in town.

From 1832 to his death in 1879, the house was owned by Admiral Boarman, who served in the War of 1812 and also commanded the Brooklyn Navy Yard and was superintendent over the outfitting of the 1853 Perry Expedition to Japan. The house remained in the Boarman family until 1943, according to the Architectural and Pictorial History of Berkeley County, published by the county's historical society.

Purchased in 1982 by the Associates for Community Development Inc., a West Virginia nonprofit corporation that also manages the King's Daughters Court housing complex, the house sold in October for $350,000.

Martin said planned renovations to the building include the addition of a kitchen and full bath.

While the property currently is zoned as a downtown business, the city's zoning ordinance allows a bed and breakfast to open there without a zoning change and exempts the property from parking requirements, according to a staff report compiled by the city planning department.

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