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Our History

The Admiral Boarman House

The lot upon which this house stands was granted to Adam Stephen in 1773 by Lord Fairfax, the Baron of Cameron, Great Britain, and proprietor of the northern neck of Virginia. Adam Stephen sold the lot to Robert Cockburn on February 24, 1775, for twenty pounds. Mr. Cockburn, who came from Mecklenberg, (now Shepherdstown, WV) built a house, probably log, on the lot in 1776. The current brick house was built circa 1802 by Philip Nadenbousch. Mr. Nadenbousch operated a store and Michael M’Kewan ran an ordinary (tavern) known as the Yellow House or Martinsburgh Inn. There was also a blacksmith and a shoemaker’s shop on the premises. In the early 1800′s a stagecoach came to Martinsburg three times a week making stops at the Martinsburgh Inn. This ad appeared in the Martinsburgh Gazette in 1812:

“American Museum” “We are now exhibiting at the Martinsburgh Inn a large and elegant collection of wax figures. Perhaps not exceeded by any other in the United States. Doors open at nine in the morning and close at nine in the evening. Admittance is 25 cents. The exhibit will close Saturday evening.”

In 1832, Philip Nadenbousch suffered financial difficulties and the building was sold by Erasmus Grant, the Sheriff, to Charles Boarman, a Commodore in the U.S. Navy, to settle Mr. Nadenbousch’s debts. Charles Boarman and his family resided in the home for more than forty years. In 1842, he did consider moving west, and placed the following ad in the Martinsburg Gazette:

“A large two story brick house in Martinsburg, resides in the public square. The main building contains 8 large rooms. There is a back building attached two stories high containing a large pantry, dining room, kitchen, and servants chambers. The grounds attached are very convenient and commodious, compromising a front yard, wood yard, and a large stone stable, carriage house, corn house, and ice house, approached from King Street by an alley 25 feet wide. The property comprises every building and improvement necessary to the comfort of a townhouse and is in thorough repair.”

Captain Boarman and his family did not move west. Although the house ceased being used as a residence in the 1890′s, it remained in the Boarman family until it was sold to the King’s Daughters Circle in December 1943. The building was later sold to the Sisters of the Holy Ghost in 1953. During these years, it was used for apartments and various offices, including an employment office for returning World War II servicemen.

 In 1980, the building was purchased by the Associates for Community Development (A.C.D.). It was in such a hazardous physical state that it was no longer habitable. The building was slated for demolition; but because of public sentiment the A.C.D. decided to save the structure. Through the help of a WV Department of Culture and History grant, matched with donations from individuals, local industry, city and county government, and a grant from the Benedum Foundation, the exterior of the building was renovated in 1983-84. The exterior renovations cost approximately $100,000.

A Community Committee was formed in 1984 to work on the interior renovation of the building. Local community leaders donated many hours to fund raising, planning for interior renovations, and deciding the best use for this historic structure.

The goal of the committee was to serve the community with a tourist information center and a WV Artisans’ Gallery and to preserve the history of the building. With the help of students from James Rumsey Vocational Institute, supervised by the City Engineer, and donations from the Berkeley County Historic Landmark’s Commission, Corning Glass, local business and individuals, and a grant from the WV Dept. of Culture & History the interior renovation was completed. The renovation cost approximately $250,000 and untold hours of donated labor. Every effort was made to retain the integrity of the structure and its interior. In 1987, the Boarman Arts Center opened its doors providing exhibit galleries for local artists and craftsmen, art classes, artist-in-residencies, lectures, and demonstrations. The Admiral Boarman House remains one of the most beautiful buildings in Martinsburg and continues to welcome tourists to the Eastern Panhandle.

 The Old Federal Building

The Old Federal Building, completed in 1895, will serve as the new home of The Arts Centre. This 22000 square foot facility was acquired from the Federal government through a grant from the Department of Education and is expected to open its doors once again in late 2005 or early 2006.

The Old Federal Building was originally home to the U.S. Post Office, the IRS and the Federal Court from 1895 until 1962. In 1963, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) acquired the building and used it as the command and control center for the Eastern Seaboard until 1999.

The building:

– It is a four story building built in the Romanesque Revival or Richardsonian Romanesque style.
– It has maple floor and solid pine doors throughout.
– Brass hardware and sconces are everywhere.
– The gutters and outside window trim are copper.

We are looking for old photos or information you may have concerning this fascinating building.



300 West King Street
Martinsburg, WV 25401
Phone: 304.263.0224
Fax: 304.263.0857
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday Noon to 4PM
Closed: Sun, Mon

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