The Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board on Thursday approved a preservation easement for Boydville, the 200-year-old mansion in Martinsburg that was spared from burning by direct order of President Lincoln in the Civil War.
The easement for the late Georgian-style home at 601 S. Queen St., along with a conservation easement for the acreage around it, ultimately will be held by the farmland protection board when the 13-acre estate is sold or transferred to a new owner, attorney David Hammer said.
Farmland Protection Board Executive Director Robert “Bob” White said after Thursday’s special meeting that at least one person has expressed interest in purchasing the property with the easements in place.
Anyone interested in purchasing Boydville is being asked to make a presentation to the farmland protection board about their intentions for the property, White said.
The farmland protection board acquired Boydville in 2005 for $2.25 million in a bid to stop proposed residential development. The Martinsburg City Council contributed $750,000 toward the purchase.
While finding a buyer interested in what will be an easement-restricted property has proved difficult, White said the farmland protection board has “limited funds” to maintain the circa-1812 mansion and the leafy grounds on which it sits.
The preservation easement approved Thursday stipulates that the new owner maintain and conserve the “original fabric” of the mansion, including original interior plaster walls, mill work, hand-painted wallpaper, library mural and bookcase and other features.
Preservation of other structures on the property, including the law office, summer kitchen, smoke house, root cellar, barn and tenant house, as well as courtyard and perimeter walls and gates, also are listed in the easement.
The new owner also would be required to open the estate to the public at least two days per year and “at other times ... to permit persons affiliated with educational organizations, professional architectural associations and historical societies to study the property,” according to the easement.
The board also reserved the right to inspect the property for compliance with the easements.
The future owner may install central air conditioning, solar power and update plumbing and electric updates, but such modifications must be made in a manner “that is sensitive to the purpose of this preservation easement and which protects to the extent possible the historic integrity and original fabric of the interior of the mansion and in keeping with the appearance and character of the facades.”
The approval of the 25-page preservation easement follows the farmland protection board’s decision to contract with Grove & Dall’Olio Architects in Martinsburg to prepare a historic structures report for Boydville.
The report is being funded through a $18,200 grant from the State Historic Preservation Office.
Board member Susan Whalton said after Thursday’s meeting that the report is expected to be completed by the end of March 2013.
The results of the detailed, forensic survey is expected to reveal the structural integrity of the 8,000-square-foot mansion and out buildings, as well as provide historical snapshots of the property, officials have said.
Built by Gen. Elisha Boyd, who served in the War of 1812, the plaster-covered stone mansion was once part of a 300-acre farm. His descendants include Charles J. Faulkner, who was appointed minister to France under President James Buchanan. And Faulkner’s son, Charles, represented West Virginia in the U.S. Senate from 1887 to 1899.
The mansion was spared from being burned by Union troops by Lincoln in July 1864, according to historical accounts.