Regional museum project in sight in downtown Martinsburg | Journal-news

MARTINSBURG — Recently, Berkeley County Council passed an ordinance to form a museum commission with the goal of establishing a regional museum in downtown Martinsburg.

In support of the proposed museum project, the Berkeley County Board has also approved the submission of requests for state and federal funds.

The board authorized the submission of a West Virginia Arts, Culture, and History Cultural Facilities and Capital Resource Grant application and also authorized the submission of a Directed Expenditures application. by Congress to US Sens. Capito, RW.Va., and Joe Manchin, DW.Va. , in support of the creation of a museum at 110 W. King St.

The West King Street Building, a former courthouse annex, was built in 1970 by Citizens National Bank. The courthouse annex, which is currently vacant, was last used for the Voter Registration and Elections Division of the Berkeley County Clerk’s Office.

According to an official statement, if granted, the funding would support the renovation of the former Berkeley County Courthouse Annex at 110 W. King St., for what is tentatively called the Eastern West Virginia Museum of Culture. & History.

The historic courthouse, located at 100 W. King St., was also considered to be part of the museum project, at least to some extent, in the future, according to Matt Umstead, director of strategic planning and Berkeley County Communications.

“Creating a regional museum will give our cultural center leverage and influence and support efforts to bring visitors to downtown Martinsburg,” said Berkeley County Council Chairman Doug Copenhaver. .

Berkeley County’s boundaries, when it was created on May 15, 1772, included most of Morgan County, including Berkeley Springs and all of Jefferson County. The latter was formed in 1801. Morgan County was created in 1820.

“A number of community collaborations are being explored and outreach activities are underway with various history and heritage-focused community groups and leaders in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties,” Umstead added in the official press release.

This regional museum project is envisioned to complement the regional approach to what is known as the Washington Heritage Trail, a group of more than 40 historic sites across the three counties, including the historic Washington County Courthouse Berkeley, Harpers Ferry National Historic Park and George Washington’s Berkeley Springs Bath, the press release adds.

“With over 200 National Register of Historic Places listings in Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties, including two of the state’s 16 National Historic Landmarks, there is a huge opportunity to increase heritage tourism throughout the region with creation of this museum,” said Mark Jordan, executive director of CVB Martinsburg-Berkeley County.

The museum is designed as a hub for history education and archival research and is also expected to help attract heritage tourists traveling along the Interstate 81 corridor to other community museums and historic sites within across the Eastern Panhandle.

“As thousands of heritage-minded tourists come to Harpers Ferry, Martinsburg and Berkeley Springs each year, this project is exciting as it would give visitors even more reason to extend a planned day trip to the area over the weekend. -end,” Jefferson said Annette Gavin-Bates, CEO of the County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History curator Randall Reid-Smith said he was excited about the project which promotes the importance of the region’s culture and history.

“It’s a proven fact that culture and heritage tourists who visit the state typically stay one to two days longer and spend an average of $186 more per day. These are the type of visitors we want to see in the state of West Virginia, and we want our own people to visit,” Reid-Smith said. “No one wants to live in a cultural desert. They want something to improve their children’s education, they want something where they can entertain their families, and they want a place where they can take potential customers to promote the area.

“The Eastern Panhandle is relatively close to a number of cultural attractions in Washington, DC, but I want to see us promote the importance of our culture and our history, and that’s why I want to see such a facility here in our state,” Reid-said Smith.

Berkeley County Councilman Dan Dulyea thanked the Reid-Smith for his help.

“The museum that we are working on, over time I think, will be something that will benefit our community and the state for years and years to come,” Dulyea said.

Main Street Martinsburg executive director Robby Blair also expressed excitement about the potential project.

“I think this museum, especially downtown, if everything goes as planned, it could be a really big X-factor for our downtown. when it comes to tourism,” Blair said. “I think that puts us in a position to tell the stories properly – we have people who love our story and are so invested in trying to tell our story.”

Blair noted that things seem to be “clicking” with all the right people in all the right places at the right time.

“I’m excited about it and I’m really proud that it’s in downtown Martinsburg,” Blair said. “Martinsburg and downtown Martinsburg in particular is the central hub, we are the epicenter of the Eastern Panhandle, so that makes sense. This, along with the combination of the Creekside project, positions Martinsburg for growth and for the tourism that will inevitably follow.

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James C. Tibbs