The Town of Hillsboro last week purchased a house along Rt. 9 for $355,000—a property town leaders will work to transform into a postal center for residents and a welcome center for visitors.
The town made the purchase of the 2,148-square-foot house, which sits on a half-acre lot just west of the Old Stone School, during a foreclosure auction at the county courthouse last Wednesday.
Mayor Roger Vance said the town plans to close on the purchase by the end of this week. The project is to be financed through U.S. Department of Agriculture grants and includes converting the building into a home for postal boxes and perhaps a visitor center, a small museum, meeting rooms, a space for local artists and more.
“There’s a lot of things we could do with the facility,” Vance said, emphasizing that the building, which is assessed by the county at a value of $326,950, would not become a formal U.S. Post Office, but simply a site where residents could pick up their mail. “We think it’s a good opportunity.”
Vance said the idea to purchase a property for those purposes has been on town leaders’ minds for close to two decades, sincethe town lost its 20134 ZIP code and residents’ post office boxes were moved from the Hill Tom Market to the Purcellville Post Office in 2004.
The need for a Hillsboro postal center is even listed as a priority in the town’s comprehensive plan, which notes that the town should actively pursue properties for that use.
More recently, town leaders were looking to install a postal center in the Old Stone School to provide residents with continued rural mail delivery during the Rt. 9 traffic calming project, which will see partial and full road closures through town from late summer/early fall 2020 to May 2021.
Vance said the Town Council voted to approve the purchase at its Jan. 21 meeting after learning about the auction two days prior.
The town plans to fund the $355,000 purchase through USDA grants, which it had already been pursuing for work in the Old Stone School.
After closing on the sale, Vance said the town would hold a small charette to identify a design that works best for the building, which will be pedestrian-accessible once the town’s road project wraps up in June 2021.
“We have some steps to take to show the viability of the plan,” Vance said.
He said the town is working on the USDA applications now and that it should take about three to four months to get that financing set up. That should come sometime this summer, before Rt. 9 road closures through town begin. That means residents would have access to in-town mail delivery during the entirety of the road project.
“We feel really good about it, we’re excited,” Vance said. “It’ll be a good thing so we’re happy.”
Once the project is complete and postal boxes are installed in the town’s newly purchased building, it will mark the beginning of a new era for Hillsboro, which featured one of the earliest Post Offices in colonial America, according to Vance.
In 1890, the Hillsboro Post Office operated out of a purpose-built small red building, where a woodworking shop now operates.When the Post Office closed in 1984, residents used post office boxes in the Hill Tom Market for the next 20 years. In 2004, when the town lost its ZIP code and residents’ post office boxes were transferred to Purcellville, residents were forced to share a 20132 ZIP code with Purcellville.
On April 1, 2018, the U.S. Postal Service agreed to allowHillsboro-area residents and businesses to use “Hillsboro, VA” in their address lines while still requiring them to use the 20132 ZIP code—an agreement that gave the town back some of its identity.
Vance said brining a postal center back to town is “a unifying type of thing.”