Committee proposing new boundaries for historic district

May 24, 2006|by ROBERT SNYDER


Built in the 1890s, the stately brick houses along North Raleigh Street in Martinsburg were named the East Baltimore Row because the units' marble steps recalled those found in Maryland's largest city.

The houses, which were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980, could be included in the city's historic overlay district after a proposal this week by a committee appointed by the Historic Preservation Review Commission to expand the district's boundaries.

The proposal submitted by committee members Monday envisions squaring off many of the original district's ragged edges, as well as adding three panhandles that would extend north, south and west of the original district and serve as gateways into the downtown, said Berkeley County Historic Landmarks Commission Chairman Don C. Wood, who serves on the city's preservation review board.


"(The expansion) takes in the arteries bringing people to historic Martinsburg," Wood said.

Formed in Martinsburg in 1982, the historic preservation review board is authorized to consider applications for exterior improvements, additions or demolitions of downtown properties that are included in the review district.

Along with the Baltimore rowhouses, a number of other nearby properties along West Race Street could be included in the expanded district such as Norborne Hall, which was built around 1810 and was once a poorhouse and later the residence of Civil War artist Porte Crayon, according to the county Historical Society's Architectural and Pictorial History of Berkeley County Volume II.

"You have some very nice houses that are included in that area," Wood said.

The committee also proposes adding the 13-acre Boydville property in to the expanded district, as well as 250-year-old Aspen Hall, which stands on the site of an one-time French and Indian War-era fort along the city's northern edge and the B&O Roundhouse complex to the east of the downtown.

Adoption of the new district could be as far off as December, said city Engineer Mike Covell.

The committee's work must first be presented to the HPRC, and be reviewed by the City Council before being submitted for a public hearing to the planning commission, Covell said.

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