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Martinsburg roundhouse chief's mother leaves $10,000 for project

December 05, 2012|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD | matthewu@herald-mail.com
  • This is an exterior shot of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad in Martinsburg, W.Va. Clarence E. "CEM" Martin III announced a $10,000 posthumous gift to the roundhouse from his mother, Catherine duBois Silver Martin.
Herald-Mail file photo

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. — History was very important to Catherine duBois Silver Martin.

Martin, who died March 1, left $10,000 in her will for ongoing efforts to restore and find new uses for the historic Baltimore & Ohio Railroad roundhouse complex in Martinsburg, according to her son, Clarence E. “CEM” Martin III.

“She really believed in the project,” Martin said after Tuesday’s Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority board meeting where he announced his mother’s gift.

Martin, who serves as the board’s chairman, said his mother made annual contributions in support of the Roundhouse project that totaled close to $30,000 or more. 

Martin said his mother, who was the last surviving member of her immediate family, had deep roots in the community. Her father’s family, the Silvers, can trace its history in what is now Berkeley County back to the 1700s when Morgan Morgan, regarded as the state’s earliest colonial settler, moved to the Gerrardstown area south of Martinsburg.

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Her brother, Gray Silver Jr., served as a circuit judge and her father, Gray Silver, served in the state Senate. Gray Silver III, was her nephew. She was a founding member of a group formed to preserve the home of Martinsburg’s founder, Adam Stephen, he said.

She went to meetings regularly until she couldn’t go due to health concerns, Martin said.

In a Herald-Mail interview in December 2008, Catherine Martin recalled childhood years in Martinsburg when she and friends would go to the square the night before a school football game and yell at the town from the bandstand that once was located there.

A granite drinking fountain that her maternal grandmother donated in the early 1900s for the square now sits at the north end of Faulkner Avenue at West Stephen Street, but is not functioning.

“I’m glad I grew up when I did,” Martin said in the interview.

Exactly how Martin’s donation would be used wasn’t decided Tuesday, but Roundhouse Authority board members discussed possibly launching a fundraising effort to raise financial support at least one project aimed to make the property more readily available for adaptive reuse.

While efforts to design and build a restroom addition for the complex move ahead, the Roundhouse Authority board also hopes to pour a concrete floor in the Frog & Switch maintenance shop building.

The floor project is considered especially important given interest by organizers of the Mountain State Apple Harvest Festival in using the property for various festivities again next year, board members said.

Berkeley County Council member Elaine C. Mauck, who serves as a non-voting representative to the Roundhouse Authority board, suggested that those who donated a certain amount of money for the floor project could be recognized on a memorial plaque for their contribution.

“Right now, the public wants to be part of it,” Mauck said after the meeting. The venerable industrial site across from the Caperton Train Station is where the nation’s first railroad strike began in 1877. The B&O’s original railroad shop complex built there was destroyed by Confederate troops in October 1862 during the Civil War.

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