Hill Top House project at Harpers Ferry moving forward

The Hill Top House could accept guests by 2024, now that the Town of Harpers Ferry has approved construction.

It’s been a long time, but there is good news for fans of the famous Hill Top House Hotel, the majestic destination of Harpers Ferry which opened in 1888.


More than 13 years after the decaying hotel closed, city officials have signed deals that business owners and others here say will finally kick off the $ 139 million project.

Authorities have given the green light to a demolition permit for the hotel, which has collapsed and has remained empty since February 2008. From now on, a 120-room hotel could open its doors by summer 2024.

The <a class=Hill Top House as it appeared on an early 20th century postcard.” width=”300″ height=”150″ data-srcset=”https://wvexplorer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Hill-Top-House-from-Postcard-300×150.png 300w, https://wvexplorer.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/Hill-Top-House-from-Postcard.png 431w” sizes=”(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px”/>
The Hill Top House as it appeared on an early 20th century postcard.

Martha Ehlman, who owns the Ten Fold Fair Trade store at 180 High Street, says she is happy to see the hotel project and others move forward.

“I am delighted to see the positive movement,” Ehlman said. “My hope is that we can leave behind the division that has marked our city. ”

Building on its breathtaking view of the Potomac River, the new Hill Top will feature a signature restaurant of James Beard winner José Andrés and his ThinkFoodGroup and will offer world-class meeting and dining spaces, luxury accommodations, a spa holistic, wellness programs and a range of academic, cultural and artistic offerings.

Developed by SWaN directors Fred and Karen Schaufeld of Leesburg, Va., The project will usher in good things for both Harpers Ferry and the Eastern Panhandle, said Ehlman, who has been leading a county effort to see the Hill Top built.

In addition to the temporary jobs created during the construction of the hotel, the completed Hill Top is expected to provide approximately 130 permanent jobs and inject hundreds of thousands of dollars in economic benefits and tax revenues for hotels and motels each year.

The deteriorating structure slated for demolition is not the original building, as the hotel had to be rebuilt after major fires in 1912 and 1919.

Thomas Lovett, unveiled the Hill Top when Grover Cleveland was in the White House and met with enviable success, welcoming Mark Twain, WEB Du Bois, Alexander Graham Bell and other prominent visitors of the day.

An African-American entrepreneur, Lovett had come to Harpers Ferry because of its historic desegregated school, Storer College.

In 1998, well into its “shabby chic” period, it could still attract big names, including then-President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore, who had lunch at the hotel during a visit to the Earth Day at Harpers Ferry National Historic Park.

The target audience for the new hotel includes visitors from across the DC metro area. Harpers Ferry is located about 60 miles from Washington – an easy drive and even easier train ride to the station just down the hill from the hotel site.

Historians and nature lovers are already drawn to Harpers Ferry, crossed by the Appalachian Trail. In 1859, abolitionist John Brown attempted to seize the federal arsenal as part of his plan to arm enslaved men and women and end slavery in the United States.

Ehlman says she can’t wait to see the Hill Top reclaim its place at the top of town.

“It’s exciting to think of building a beautiful, viable Hill Top House hotel, a hotel that honors the legacy of the Lovett family and their rich tradition of bringing together influential people in our historic city,” she said.

Ehlman says city council also made a street use agreement with the owner of the hotel that had been hanging around for four years. SWaN will pay $ 257,300 for the use of six “paper streets” – areas near the hotel that had been designated for streets but never built.


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