Village Green and Hillyer Memorial Gazebo
"The Village Green" History
| Early in Midlothian’s history, the downtown business district was regionally recognized as the home of a large and very successful restaurant, Chuck Cavalini's. Over the years, as the grandeur and quality of the once-popular restaurant became diminished, Cavalini's closed their doors. This not only ended a tradition of fine dining that lasted many decades, it also created an economic hole in the center of the Midlothian business district. The building sat vacant for many years until it was eventually demolished and the property deeded to the Village of Midlothian. Grass was planted and the property named "The Village Green".
Fundraising and Construction
An initial fund raising event was held during the summer of 2010, but the amount of the donations fell far short of what it would cost to purchase the gazebo and the project's success began to look a little out of reach. By the February meeting of the Economic Development Committee, it was obvious that the fund raising efforts needed a boost. The new fundraising effort and, in effect, the upgraded project, began in March, 2011. Residents and business owners all over town were presented with an opportunity to donate. Several levels of incentives were offered including naming rights to the gazebo, memorial plaques and name inscription on a donor plaque. By mid-summer, 2011, we had collected enough money to purchase a 24 foot gazebo kit from Amish Gazebos of Pennsylvania. By the fall, the gazebo was built and we were able to hold events there. The rest of the green was still unfinished, however, and we continued to accept donations of time and money to get the job done. By Christmas, the gazebo and village green project met the objectives set in February: The gazebo was built, sidewalks and planting areas were complete, a drainage system had been installed, the memorial sign was in place, six decorative masonry pillars were built, an electrical and decorative lighting system was completed, and a few donated trees and bushes were installed.
With the development of the Village Green and the construction of the Hillyer Gazebo, a number of events, many of them new events, have been held or are already planned. The village has sponsored two concerts on the green featuring local talent and food vendors. Another is planned for later this summer. We have sponsored an Ice cream social, complete with a barber shop quartet, and have another planned for later this summer. Again, the ice cream sundaes were provided by a local vendor. One of our new shops in the downtown area asked the village if they may use the village green and the Hillyer Gazebo as a venue for its grand opening celebration. A local hair salon will host a Back-to-School picnic with food, games and prizes of school supplies on August 18 to promote their business. They have invited neighboring businesses to join them. Each of our parades at Christmastime and Independence Day used the green as their ending site. The Girls Scouts used the site as the location for their observance of Girl Scouting’s 100th birthday on March 12. The 10th anniversary of the 911 attacks was held featuring the display of a piece of twisted wreckage from the World Trade Center that will be mounted permanently on the green as a memorial. We have hosted the National Night Out against crime on the green and plan that event again this year on August 7. Our Veteran’s Committee hosted a Support the Troops event. The site was the location of our Arbor Day observance.
This entire project was financed or built using donated funds and volunteer efforts. Ownership is firmly embraced by the community. When Jack Rickey, the sitting chairman of the Beautification Committee passed away during the summer of 2011, his family donated a tree for the village green to serve as a loving memorial. A total of $56,585.93 was donated by residents and businesses. Over 660 hours of volunteer service was donated by businesses and residents for construction alone. Countless additional volunteer hours were spent in the planning, purchasing and fundraising stages of the project. Residents have volunteered time to plant donated flowers and bushes. Additional volunteer hours were spent organizing and conducting events. Signs continue to show a high level of community buy-in. Four additional trees have been donated by a local business, a supportive resident and through the proceeds of a split-the-pot raffle conducted at a recent concert. Two memorial park benches have been donated. As the green has become more and more attractive, there has been an increase in volunteer donations. The green was featured in a front-page article in our local newspaper under the headline under the headline, “Pride of Midlothian”.