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You can buy City Hall

The old one, that is, for $1.2 million

The old one, that is, for $1.2 million

April 23, 2006|By ROBERT SNYDER

MARTINSBURG, W.VA.

City Hall can be bought, and for a cool $1.2 million.

Not the current City Hall at North Queen Street in Martinsburg, but the 10,400-square-foot building around the corner and a few blocks down on West King Street that served as the city's government building for more than 50 years, and until last year housed software manufacturer Butterfly.net, which since has relocated to Los Angeles.

The three-story building, which sits in the shadow of the old federal courthouse at 224-226 W. King St., was constructed in 1908 and served as Martinsburg's City Hall until the current municipal building was constructed in the mid-1980s, according to Keith Hammersla, head of reference and information services at the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library.

Designed by local architect Clarence Harding, the building, with its cavernous interior, was the original site of Berkeley County's YMCA, and its full-size gymnasium remained in use by Butterfly.net employees, said David Levine, who bought the property in 2002.

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"We used it quite a bit most afternoons and would take an hour or two and play basketball," Levine said, adding the gym also was used for birthday parties, complete with trampolines.

The building saw plenty of other use in its day.

It was the former site of almost all of the city's municipal offices, the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Public Library, the city's police offices, the Berkeley County Chapter of the American Red Cross and the local Boys & Girls Club, said Pat Murphy, a member of the Berkeley County Board of Education who continues to volunteer for the Boys & Girls Club.

Murphy said he remembers using solitary confinement cells in the building's basement as a film development lab as part of his photography class work with the Boys & Girls Club.

The building also housed the local Girl Scouts of America, the Knights of Pythia, a fraternal organization, and offices for two local performing bands - the City Band and Comrey's Band, Hammersla said.

"At this point, there was still the old bandstand in the public square and they performed there," Hammersla said.

In 1991, the building was sold to the developer of the now-defunct Blue Ridge Outlets, who used it as a residence, Hammersla said.

The building, which was listed almost two weeks ago by ERA Realty, was purchased in 2002 for more than $500,000, real estate agent David Heatwole said. He said, along with the gymnasium, the building contains a sprinkler system, a security system, a new roof and a full-size swimming pool in the basement.

"A lot of kids learned to swim in that basement," Murphy said. "The water was so cold."

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