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James Madison Museum Working to Restore Old Hangout Spot in Orange

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Halley's was renamed to Hilltop Restaurant Halley's was renamed to Hilltop Restaurant
The James Madison Museum plans to turn it back into a hangout spot The James Madison Museum plans to turn it back into a hangout spot
Mabel Easton remembers going to Halley's for hot dogs Mabel Easton remembers going to Halley's for hot dogs
ORANGE, Va. (WVIR) -

Plans are underway to hopefully restore what was once a main hangout spot in Orange.

The historic landmark on Church Street, once called Halley's and then renamed to Hilltop Restaurant, has been abandoned since 1984 when the roof collapsed.

It was known for its good food, but more so for what it symbolized - a place filled with fond memories and plenty of love.

“Your mama was everybody’s mama,” says Jane Ware, who lives in Orange County.

Halley's was a staple in the Orange community.

“I remember this place so much because whenever I came back, I always said 'I have to go get me a Halley Hot Dog,’” says Mabel Easton, who lives in Orange County.

While famous for its good food, it also was a symbol for togetherness.

“The Halleys never treated us any differently than they did anyone else who came in here,” says Easton.

“Mr. Halley was white, but I don't think he saw color,” says Chuck Mason, a former mayor of Orange.

Halley's was around when Orange schools and churches were segregated, but the restaurant was known as a meeting spot for anyone and everyone.

“Growing up in Orange, yeah, the whites and blacks didn't socialize a lot together, but we saw each other, we were around, we played,” says Mason.

The restaurant people know and love is now a gutted, empty building.

After Mr. Halley passed away, it later turned into Hilltop Restaurant. And once its roof collapsed in 1984, nobody went near the location.

But now, new air will be breathed into the old hangout spot.

“We're making it a meeting place, because that's sort of what it always was,” says Bradley Toombs, who works at James Madison Museum.

The James Madison Museum wants to turn the abandoned building into a place for community members to host events and children's programs.

“We feel like we're sort of continuing its original purpose - not so much as a restaurant, but as a place where the community can come and be together and join in fun things," says Toombs.

The museum also wants to store memorabilia from Halleys, Orange County High School, and other events and places that have a special meaning to the Orange community.