Martinsburg Roundhouse Center
National Historic Landmark, Martinsburg, WV
Approved November 1, 2005
The purpose of this document is to establish an approved Use Plan for the Martinsburg Roundhouse Center.
The present buildings date from 1866, when the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad began rebuilding of their facilities in Martinsburg, West Virginia, after the destruction during the Civil War. The main buildings, consisting of the Bridge and Machine Shop, the West Roundhouse, the Frog and Switch Shop, and the East Roundhouse were completed by 1872. The facility was in full operation until the mid-1980's, when operations began to be transferred to other locations. Operations closed down completely on March 14, 1988, and the property was effectively left abandoned. On May 14, 1990, young vandals set fire to wooden pallets stored in the East Roundhouse nearly totally destroying the building. Vandalism, weather and neglect further damaged windows, doors, and roofs of the remaining buildings.
In 1999, the Berkeley County Commission purchased the complex and transferred ownership to the newly created Berkeley County Roundhouse Authority. The Authority began active fund raising through Federal, State and private funding and started restoration of the complex. In June 2003, the complex was designated a National Historic Landmark.
A feasibility study for the adaptive reuse of the complex was undertaken by the Hillier Group. A later study was performed by Janice Barlow Associates to further identify possible uses. In addition, an in-house study group was tasked with developing a general use plan including a survey of potential users. During the intervening years, many individuals and local organizations have made suggestions.
The restoration of the complex began in earnest in 2000 and has progressed to the point that something beyond limited use can begin by the end of 2005. With this in mind, it is time to establish the official Use Plan for the Martinsburg Roundhouse Center.
The facility is sited on 13.65 acres in downtown Martinsburg. It consists of three major buildings, the Bridge and Machine Shop, the West Roundhouse and the Frog and Switch Shop. In addition, there are the East Roundhouse Ruins, the Car Shop and the Saw Shop. Also on the site is a switch control building, Miller Tower.
- Bridge and Machine Shop: This is a two-story building containing approximately 10,000 square feet on each floor. An addition is planned for the rear of the building to accommodate restrooms, a stairwell and an elevator.
- West Roundhouse: This 16-sided building has approximately 23,000 square feet. The building houses a 50-foot diameter locomotive turntable. Present plans are to motorize the turntable and equip it with a portable stage cover, providing a rotating stage for certain events.
- Frog and Switch Shop: This rectangular building has approximately 20,000 square feet. A blacksmith shop (approximately 5,000 square feet) occupies the rear of the building.
- East Roundhouse: This building, on the east side of the complex, has approximately 18,000 square feet. Presently, only the framework, foundation and concrete slab remain. The building needs to be reenclosed to make it useful.
- Fruit Exchange: This 30'x100' rectangular building has approximately 5,500 square feet on its first floor and basement. The building is located on East Burke Street across the CSX tracks from the Roundhouse Center.
The overall planned use for the facility is a multi-purpose community center providing facilities for concerts, trade shows, conventions, exhibits and other public events. A certain amount of space is set aside for dedicated uses, such as office space, long-term lease space, and museum space. The specific use of each of the principal buildings follows:
- Bridge and Machine Shop: The upper floor of this building is to be used as leased space for offices or light industrial use. The intent is to generate an income stream to support ongoing operating expenses for the complex. The available rental space will be 8000-9000 square feet, depending on build out requirements. This space is presently expected to be available for use in the last quarter of 2006. The ground floor of the building will house the administrative offices of the complex and a visitor's center. The remainder of the ground floor is available for commercial tenants, such as shops and a restaurant. The intended target for potential tenants would be shops which are compatible with and enhance the history and railroad atmosphere of the facility.
- West Roundhouse: This building provides an excellent venue for concerts and plays in the round, performed on the rotating turntable stage. Portable tiered seating is planned for these events. It also provides a large area for trade shows.
- Frog and Switch Shop: The rear portion of the building (the Blacksmith Shop) is to be dedicated to museum space. The area will house an operating steam hammer (compressed air, in the restored version), several forges, and displays of artifacts. The forward section of the building will be utilized for events, similar to the Roundhouse venue or as an overflow for the Roundhouse.
- Fruit Exchange: The building will house an operating model train diorama depicting the B&O Rail Shops at Martinsburg and the surrounding areas during different historic periods. It will also house displays of artifacts associated with the Roundhouse and a 'Company Store' gift shop.
- Miller Tower: This mechanically operated switching control station is relocated near the north entrance to the complex. It will be used to operate the rail spur onto the property and provide an historic attraction where visitors can view rail traffic control as it once was.
- Car Shop: The south half of the building is to be used for storage of equipment such as portable seating, turntable portable stage, chairs, tables, and maintenance equipment. The north half of the building is to house the complex maintenance and rail car restoration shop.
Long Range Plans
Ultimately, the historic rail heritage of the property will be emphasized. The Center owns a circa-1925 B&O caboose (presently the office) and will look to add a steam locomotive and other cars in the future. With a spur rail reintroduced to the complex, switching of the spur will be controlled from Miller Tower.