Soon we were on the road again barreling towards Harpers Ferry driving straight for the Hilltop Hotel to check out its condition. It had been closed for a few years now and had never been developed as had been originally planned into a restored version of its old self.
We walked through the open front door and looked around. It was sad, and immediately I felt an anger towards the company who had purchased this property and left it to rot.
My parents had come to visit me in 2005 and I'd brought them here to show them the hotel. They'd announced a day later that they'd booked 3 nights out of their visit in the hotel because they'd been charmed by the building, the staff and the views. I heard of quiet summer evenings spent on the paved patio with fellow guests, sharing drinks and stories, and of comfortable rooms that didn't let the neighbors activities penetrate through the walls. I'd never stayed here myself but had been for lunches a few times with friends, always wanting to return to that fabulous terrace where the windows would be opened wide and a sweet breeze would waft across the table as we ate lunch and laughed over drinks, and if you leaned a little out over the low ledges you could peer straight down into the steep valley immediately below. The views were marvelous here and always talked of. I don't remember that the food was fabulous but the hotel's atmosphere itself, created by the building and the staff, was always the main feature, it could hold its own court.
The dining terrace windows were still in place but the ivy was battling its way inside, prising the glass away from the frames, and creeping along the walls towards floor and ceiling.
I found a couple of articles on line, learning how the hotel will have to be torn down because it is now too unsafe to restore, and have posted them below.
I wonder if eventually someone will build another Hilltop Hotel or will the hill be pinaccled with a boring, spiritless Hyatt or similar chain hotel. I sincerely hope not, Harpers Ferry deserves better than that. This is a prime beauty spot which commands respect.
We left and met some people outside looking wistfully up at the crumbly walls and we shared memories, some funny, some poignant. All were upset at the decay and abandonment. As yet, there have been few vandals or scrappers inside but surely that will soon occur, and the thought of that upset me tremendously as I looked back over my shoulder, feeling protective as though the hotel were an old friend.