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Museum Musings - A Building Worth Saving?

A structure listing on the National Registry...should be a fairly simple "Yes! Save the building!" In reality, it's really not easy to make it happen. Washington never slept here...and no one famous, or notorious, stopped by either. Affectionately known as "Hilltop" because of it's last use as Hilltop Restaurant, the building has been vacant since 1984.

Here is the verbiage on the National Registry file of the Department of the Interior, National Register of Historic Places; VDHR File # 275-5001 (1998/1999), Orange Commercial Historic District; Section 7, Page 10:

Hilltop Restaurant building:

“137 Caroline Street, Halley Service Station & Restaurant, ca.1930, one-story, gable-roofed concrete-block service station with projecting wooden gable-roofed porte-cochere supported by brick piers, asphalt or asbestos roofing, one-story shed addition attached to south side, currently vacant.”

1930 - Jimmy Halley owned the building and operated a gas station, sandwich counter and convenience shop known as "Halley's One Stop," He sold regular and white gasoline. White gasoline was safe to use in blow torches and camping equipment. This property was one of the few places white gasoline was available. Then, Les Bartley purchased the property and converted it into a full service restaurant - “Hilltop Restaurant.” Hilltop was well-known and enjoyed local gathering place until the mid-to-late 1980’s. Many adults recall happy times gathering at Hilltop after school sports and activities, or eating with their family.

Hilltop and (Powell Motor Company) the James Madison Museum of Orange County Heritage.

So - the building can be renovated/restored - we have the architectural drawings. However, the cost is estimated to be around $160,000.00.

The building needs masonry repair/replacement, the large double window on the right (from front view) needs to be replaced. The interior is already gutted, so the remaining plaster walls need replacement. Portions of the floor in the large front area need replacement. The back addition needs work, and the small lower level back addition was never finished.

Sadly, the museum has been unable to partner or raise funds to restore the building over the past 10+ years. What do you think should be done?

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