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Front Royal Delays Vote on Afton Inn Demolition

24 August 2017 News


Nostalgia versus reality the Afton Inn circa early 1900s

A decision on whether to allow demolition of what is believed to be Front Royal’s oldest remaining historic downtown structure has been put on hold until September 12, 2017. At that time, the town’s Board of Architectural Review has scheduled voting, after a public hearing, on demolition of the Afton Inn.

The request to demolish the 149-year-old building standing at the head of Front Royal’s Historic Downtown Business District was submitted by the Town-County Economic Development Authority on behalf of the Northern Virginia MODE Development Partnership. Demolition is the start of a two-phased plan to rebuild. Architectural drawings submitted presented an exterior design based on the appearance of the Afton Inn after its elaborate porch system was lost in the early 1900s.

Fourteen people spoke at the Tuesday August 22 public hearing, six for demolition and six wanting to save the building, as well as two coming down in the middle depending on what is achievable financially. Three downtown businessmen, an ex-mayor and town councilman all spoke in favor of demolition.

Royal Cinemas owner and former EDA board member Rick Novak asked, “What is so warm and fuzzy about that building? It is not so attractive a building.”

And that was the crux of the dueling perspectives expressed for and against demolition – nostalgia versus the reality of the present.

“I agree with Rick Novak – We have gone through every avenue to try and achieve the finances to renovate,” retired Mayor Tim Darr said.

Former Councilman Bret Hrbek called the building an eyesore that has been an embarrassment to the town for decades, stating, “It’s time to let go of the old and to move forward with the new.”


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