by Tricia Lynn Strader
A large, white stately home has stood on South Queen Street in Martinsburg for over 200 years. Boydville is a late Georgian style mansion built in 1812 by Elisha Boyd, an attorney and member of the Virginia House of Delegates. He was an officer of the Fourth Virginia Regiment in the War of 1812. One cannot help being impressed when spying the large home that sits well back from the road with a long treelined drive.
Boyd owned portions of the area in the 1790s, and Boydville is part of the Boydville Historic District area of Martinsburg that was developed for the well-to-do residents at the turn of the 20th Century. The district runs generally along South Queen Street to south of the Downtown Martinsburg Historic District and to east of the Boomtown Historic District.
On Boyd’s death in 1841, his daughter Mary inherited. She was the wife of Charles J. Faulkner (1806-1884). Faulkner, like his father-in-law, was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates (1829-1834; 1848-1849) and Virginia Senate (1838-1842). He’d advocated a gradual abolition of slavery, and the forcible annexation of Texas from Mexico. He served as ambassador to France in the James Buchanan administration from 1859- 1861. Faulkner was an assistant adjutant general to Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson during the Civil War. Faulkner was temporary president of the West Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1872.
He served in the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1875-1877. During the Civil War, Boydville and two other houses were marked for burning by Union General David Hunter in retaliation for the burning of Maryland Governor Bradford’s house. On an hour’s notice Mary Faulkner obtained an exemption from Abraham Lincoln, saving the house.
The Faulkners’ son, Charles J. Faulkner II (1847-1929), was 15 when he fought in the Battle of New Market, Va., as a VMI cadet during the Civil War. He later became an attorney at 21 years old and a United States Senator from West Virginia. He liked to drink mint juleps and entertain at Boydville. The two story stucco-covered stone mansion consists of a main wing with nine rooms, a right wing, and a left wing that housed the kitchens.
Today’s kitchen still has the call box, used by the family to ring a bell somewhere in the house and call the servants. The center-hall main house retains its original woodwork, with hand-carved door frames and mantelpieces imported from England. All three chandeliers in the front rooms were imported from France. The two parlor fixtures are the same, but the one in the foyer has falcons on it and was a gift from the French government for Charles J. Faulkner I’s service to their country.
In addition, there is some locally famous hand-painted wallpaper that was applied in layers to simulate wood paneling (also imported from France). This is in the main hall on both the lower and upper levels. The wallpaper dates to the 1850s, and a similar style wallpaper was reportedly in the White House around the same timeframe. There are 13 fireplaces. Many door locks are original and were done by the locksmith of the King of England at the time.
Many upgrades to the property were completed by Charles J. Faulkner II in the early 1900s, such as the enlargement of the original portico on the front to span the entire width of the main structure, the addition of the quarter-sawn parquet flooring in the foyer and parlors, the thin wood floor in the dining room, the addition of the sunroom on the rear, and the addition of the first boiler and heating system and electric service.
In more recent years, Boydville operated as a bed and breakfast until it was sold in the mid-2000s. A developer planned to turn the 13 acres into a small historic Williamsburg-like subdivision with the mansion acting as a clubhouse.
However, many area residents protested. The Berkeley County Farmland Protection Board instead bought it in early 2006, and occasionally opened it for special events. The board then sold it to Jonathan and Meagan Mann on April 4, 2013.
For the past year, the Manns have made Boydville their home. They have hosted some special events, and completed a few items on a list of restoration and sprucing projects. They’re trying to remodel and bring it back to its former glory, and make it a comfortable home.
One of the special events that opened Boydville was Heritage Day in May 2013, a celebration for Martinsburg’s history and, besides Boyd or General Adam Stephen, other notables like Civil War Confederate spy Belle Boyd (no direct relation to Elisha Boyd).
Another event at Boydville is the annual Wine & Arts Festival. Jonathan Mann reports Boydville has hosted a car show, several weddings, his class reunion, and filming of an upcoming History Channel project called “The Wars.” Prior to their ownership, filming took place at Boydville for “The Men Who Built America.”
“We hope to have more opportunities for movie filming at Boydville,” says Mann. “We’re still renovating the bedrooms. We are planning to have three to four B&B rooms available later.” Bedrooms are named after Elisha Boyd and his daughter Mary Faulkner, each with private baths.
Elisha’s room is quite large with a modern bath. Mary’s room is smaller with more period-type bath fixtures. Downstairs is the Stonewall Jackson room with two baths attached to it – the small shower bathroom as well as the old subway-tiled bathroom in all white decor. These may be some of the B&B rooms in future.
On the ground floor, a north parlor now serves as the family’s TV room. The south parlor is more formal with period furnishings. The nearby dining room has historic wallpaper and built-in china cabinets. A room near the Stonewall Jackson bedroom has an impressive mural covering an entire wall. It will likely be a common room for guests.
A sunroom on the back of the mansion can comfortably hold about 50 people for parties or wedding receptions; and Mann says other rooms of the house could be utilized for more space if one single area for the guests was not a requirement.
There isn’t one entirely open space where 100+ people could congregate indoors. The rooms are for more intimate gatherings. However, outside is a different story. “We have just over 13 acres with beautiful mature trees lining a 200- yard driveway,” says Mann. “Our outdoor venue is more than accommodating space-wise. We have had two tent weddings, and they both worked out well despite some rain.”
The backyard includes a patio, gazebo, and smokehouses to be restored. Apparent gun ports can be found in one smokehouse, assumed to protect the family from attack by Indians when the house was being built.
They just finished a remodel of a building on the grounds that served as Elisha Boyd and Charles Faulkner’s law offices. They removed tattered carpet, painted the interior, and patched and painted floors. They also installed a new refrigerator and cleaned up around the stone-walled entrance. They would like to offer this area for office space rental soon.
They haven’t advertised much, but Mann says business has been strong. They have a Facebook page and website, operating under the name Boydville the Inn at Martinsburg.
Mann is looking forward to this year’s Heritage Day, scheduled for May 10. Tours of the home are planned by the Friends of Boydville group that was originally formed to save the house from development; and refreshments will be served for a nominal fee. “We have attended numerous Heritage Day planning meetings already,” says Mann.
“We have much of the same lineup as last year: tours of the mansion, my grandmother’s famous bean soup, my grandfather’s famous homemade ice cream, and heritage crafters such as a blacksmith, as well as possibly the master gardeners.” Mann believes Boydville is unique for many reasons. “One of the first reasons that comes to mind is that it is a beautiful mansion on 13 park-like acres… downtown!
Second on my list would be Boydville’s very rich history that many people aren’t aware of despite living in this area for long periods of time. I myself wasn’t aware of the amount of history until around three years ago when I experienced my first tour during the wine and arts festival. I’ve given numerous tours where people have remarked that this is the first time they’ve seen the house or heard of the history surrounding the property despite living in Martinsburg all their lives.”
Being owners of such a historic house brings the responsibility of being caring custodians and passing on its history. He says, “It’s encouraging to see people excited about the history even if they wouldn’t consider themselves to be history lovers. The antebellum structure combined with the beautiful park atmosphere and rich history make it ideal for your elegant wedding or special event.”
For more information on Boydville the Inn at Martinsburg at 601 S. Queen St., call 304-279-7898, check out their Facebook page, or visit www.boydville.com online.