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Schoolhouse vandalized

December 23, 2006|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - A historic schoolhouse for blacks prior to desegregation was painted with graffiti that contained racial overtones, police said Friday.

Several walls and windows of what now is known as the Ramer Center at 515 W. Martin St. in Martinsburg were spray painted with racial slurs and symbols, Martinsburg Police Department Detective S.F. Doyle said.

Graffiti also was painted on a neighboring house and a vehicle parked outside, said Jaimee Borger, director of communications for Berkeley County Schools. Borger's office is in the Ramer Center, along with several other school departments and the Sumner-Ramer African American School .

"This is the most (graffiti) we've ever had," Borger said, recalling a prior incident in the last three years. "It's unfortunate that this occurred."

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Removing the paint was "our first priority this morning," and was done successfully, Borger said.

Doyle said the incident appeared to be isolated.

"Several months ago, we had a few places that were tagged with graffiti," Doyle said.

Borger said she was at her office on Thursday until about 7 p.m., giving her reason to believe the graffiti was painted overnight.

In addition to Borger's department, the 89-year-old red-brick building is home to the school district's offices for special education, visually impaired services and physical therapy; the Instructional Resource Center; and the Sumner-Ramer African-American School Museum.

Completed in 1917, the school was known as Ramer Memorial School, named in honor of principal Fred R. Ramer, and replaced a one-room building built years earlier and known as Sumner School, according to historical accounts. The school was closed in 1964.

Anyone with information about the incident may call the Martinsburg Police Department at 304-264-2100 or Berkeley County Crime Solvers at 304-267-4999.

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