Hall's Way: A Multi-Generational Vision
February 5, 2016
Left to right, Dr. Claudia Berryhill (post author), Cal Berryhill, Jenny Berryhill Eggleston (Joe’s daughter), Joe Berryhill, Nancy Hall (daughter of Claude and Addie Hall).
Riding the wave of economic prosperity from the coming of the railroad in 1890, our Great Grandfather, Moses Street Jones, purchased The Dowdy Hotel on the corner of what is now South Main Street and Abbitt Street. He was a large landowner in the northern part of Person County; transacting business was a day’s ride into town by mule or horse and buggy or daily/weekly written correspondence through his attorney. At his death in 1920, the land and uptown property passed to his only child, our Grandmother, Addie Jones Hall in a lifetime-right estate. With the previous purchases of the property by Great Grandfather Jones, and Addie’s husband, Claude Tipp Hall, Sr., our Grandfather, eventually half the block bounded by Abbitt, Lamar, South Main Streets and facing Gordon Street belonged to the Hall family.
The thriving economies of small towns in the first half of the century brought a new “modern hotel”, several car dealerships, a furniture store, department stores, restaurants, farm supply stores, insurance businesses, lawyers, banks and a multitude of other entrepreneurs to the property and all prospered during the times that Main Streets were the hub of the community.
Alas, as Roxboro began to see the similar fate of other Main Streets with bypasses, motels, new shopping centers, and suburbs, the appeal of uptown rentals began to fade.
At our mother’s death in 2011 and retirement of our uncle in 2012 who was managing the property, the management of the property and farmland was passed to this 4th generation of Jones and Halls.
We found buildings empty and desperately in need of repair and modernizing. We saw we couldn’t keep doing what we were doing; it was not sustainable for us or Uptown Roxboro. As we began to assess our options, a long-time tenant, an attorney, died, and a tenant in a very large space did not renew its lease. Eddie Belt, of Belk Architecture, was chosen to help us develop a plan to modernize the buildings while retaining their historical and vintage appeal. The County of Person, the City of Roxboro and Roxboro Development Group became our partners with financial aid for the public areas of the project. Believing in the economic future of Uptown and Person County and “local economy”, we ventured ahead with construction choosing a local contractor and as many major local subcontractors as possible. The scope of the project was the renovation of 15,800 sq ft, but as is the usual case, some “touch ups” of adjoining buildings were done as well.
Renovation of the building on Abbitt Street into two rental opportunities of approximately 1000 sq ft and 1300 sq ft and a 3000 sq ft restaurant occurred simultaneously with the adjoining building facing Gordon Street. This building yielded 8 spaces varying in size from 300 sq feet to 1100 sq feet. Public bathrooms (the only ones Uptown that will remain open after business hours during Uptown events) were installed in the Commons Area. The design of the buildings opened up a public thoroughfare from the Merritt Commons to Abbitt Street enhancing the ease of using the courthouse and businesses on Abbitt Street and, ultimately, better access to businesses on North Main Street.
The exterior of the buildings received a makeover, as well; new, energy-efficient roofs, windows were opened up again, outdated façades were replaced, and new canopies installed. Several treasures were found, one being faint lettering of a business on Abbitt Street. The alleyway, “Hall’s Way” also received a makeover.
Overall, this investment will provide one new restaurant with outside terrace dining, one new Public Hall with public restrooms, 10+ spaces for retail or business opportunities creating 48 – 56 new staff/management positions, and additional county and city property tax increases.
Truly, an “Extreme Makeover” has occurred that we hope will be another spark of vitality to Uptown Roxboro!