The Journal
Friday, May 19, 2006

Commission may commit $100K to save historic Porterfield House

By Naomi Kimble
Journal Staff Writer

MARTINSBURG - The Falling Waters Battlefield Association now stands one step closer to saving a piece of Civil War history.  The group’s members have been fighting the clock in an attempt to preserve a $1.6 million property known as the Porterfield House. The home and an adjacent tract of land once served as the backdrop for the Battle of Falling Waters. It had survived cannon blasts and gunfire, said group President Tom Ressler. Still,, he and other members of his group had been fearful about the site’s future.

The home’s owner - the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston - recently decided to put the property up for sale. Ressler said when he heard the news, he was afraid the house could be lost to a new development.

Thursday, however, he was able to breathe a small sigh of relief, as members of the Berkeley County Commission agreed to consider contributing $100,000 toward the Porterfield House’s purchase.

Resser said he was happy with the possible commitment to help preserve local history.

“The money you will appropriate will be a start,” he told commissioners.

Ressler said he plans to ask other agencies for assistance in purchasing the home and 14-acres of land that it sits on. He’s eyeing the Parks and Recreation Department and the Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board as possible partners. Ressler said he things that these groups tie in well with his organization’s efforts. Once the Porterfield House is purchased, he explained, he would like to see the property used as a park, a library or even a working farm. It could also serve as a draw for tourists who are stopping through the county on their way to nearby Harpers Ferry or Antietam, he noted.

Commissioners agreed that saving the home would be an important step in preserving local history.

“The house does not have a large amount of value,” noted Commission President Howard Strauss. “But it has a significant amount of historic value.”

The site could be used as an alternate location for a library, Strauss added. The county had been working to develop a Marlowe Library. That plan has run into several snags though, and if all parties are in agreement, he said the commission would reallocate the $100,000 that had been planned for that project. Those funds could then be put towards the purchase of the historic Porterfield House.



From I-81 take Spring Mills Exit 20, then proceed West on Hammonds Mill Road (WV 901).  T.J. Jackson Drive is the first road on the left (south side) approximately 300 yards west of I-81.  The library is on the corner, next to, but set back from the CNB Bank, across the street from the Shell Gas Station & Convenience Store.  Library Phone Number: (304) 274-3443.