Greenwood Motel Passes into History

Greenwood Motel
Greenwood Motel

Greenwood Motel on Rt. 250 has been sold to an adjoining property holder and will be razed. The 10-room motel dates to the 1940s and the business was active into the 1980s. It was one of a series of motels that were built in Ivy and Crozet after World War II to cater to tourists and which eventually succumbed to a loss of trade after Interstate 64 bypassed them.

Paul Barbato, known commonly as Paulee, who had inherited the business after the death of his mother, died in September. The pair had lived in an apartment over the motel’s office, which contained some four dozen antique clocks. A proud Marine, Barbato was buried in his uniform with military honors.

He gained some local notoriety after he put up a sign at the end of the motel driveway that read: Still Here. It referred to his adamant contention that the county was trying to tax him off the property. If his ownership of the motel was referred to, his regular answer was to dispute it and say that it actually belonged to the government.

Gary Peppe got to know Barbato in recent years and helped him around the property. “I stopped in because I saw it was falling apart. I asked if he needed help and we became friends. People loved him wherever he went. I miss him, even what a pain he was.”

Peppe was running a firewood business on a corner of the yard. The motel used a wood-burning furnace and Barbato needed a healthy supply of wood.

“I was selling firewood because I had to do something and it took off.”

Salvageable components of the building are being removed, such a windows and the locally made sandstone veneer on the front of the building. But they are few. The roof has had major leaks for years and the mold-ridden structure is hopelessly disintegrating.

“The motel was packed in the 50s,” Peppe said. It housed crew members of Evan Almighty while the movie was being filmed in Old Trail.

“The motel was successful until his mother passed away,” said Peppe. “He couldn’t keep up with it and he was tight with money. He was very close to his mom and he lost spirit. His cat died the same day Paulee died. He was very close to the cat, too. It was surprising.”

Peppe served as caretaker of the property in recent weeks and took on the task of selling its contents and arranging for it to be cleared out. “I once tried to buy it. I wanted to make it into a B&B.”

There are no plans for a new use of the 3.2-acre property, according to Mark Kirk, who manages the large farm that adjoins the motel. “We like it quiet, peaceful and open, he said.


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