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Hilltop House


The Hilltop House hotel is built on the hill above the historic town of Harpers Ferry. The hotel overlooks the spectacular landscape at the confluence of the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers. It was established by the African-American Lovett family in the late 19th century and has changed hands numerous times since then. The hotel now includes the main house and a separate annex building with conference areas and additional lodging rooms. The Hilltop House has changed over the years, resulting primarily from rebuilding after two fires.

The Lovetts came to Harpers Ferry after the Civil War. Storer College hired William and Sarah Lovett, and they enrolled their children there. The Lovetts owned another local hotel, the Lockwood House, from 1883 until around the turn of the century, and their son, Thomas, started hotel work as his parents’ office clerk. Thomas Lovett built the Hilltop House, apparently just before 1890, and he and his family operated it for decades. The Lovetts turned the hotel over to Fred McGee in 1926, and in 1959 Baltimore lawyer Dixie Kilham bought the place. Kilham later sold to William Stanhagen.

The Hilltop House entertained guests including Presidents Wilson and Clinton, Alexander Graham Bell, Mark Twain, members of Congress, and other government officials over the years. The hotel was damaged by fire in 1912 and 1919. The hotel closed in 2008.

Written by Walton Danforth Stowell Jr.