Where Would You Live During The Apocalypse?

December 30th, 2022

By Mel Oles, Visitor Services and Program Manager at Rose Hill Mansion and Johnston House

After 11 seasons, The Walking Dead  has finally come to an end. As a super fan I’m sad one of my favorite shows has concluded. Many might be surprised it’s one of my favorite TV shows, but one of the story lines takes place at a historic house museum.

A fictional historic house museum

Hilltop in The Walking Dead

A major theme of the show is that the characters need to keep moving because zombies are always a threat. One group of survivors decided to live at Hilltop which was a living history museum. When the audience is introduced to Hilltop, it is a walled farming community located in Culpeper, Virginia. Originally a historic house museum known as the Barrington House, the safe zone was established as a FEMA camp but was later abandoned. The colony was formed and led by a local business owner. Not to give away too many spoilers, but shortly after the construction of Hilltop, it was seized by another group, there’s a struggle, and other communities come to assist with Hilltop’s survival.

Before the show’s apocalypse, Hilltop was a historic mansion known as the Barrington House. The house was located deep in the woods on top of a hill in Culpeper. Besides the large historic mansion, there are barns for livestock and a blacksmith’s shop. In the 1930s, the family who owned the house gave it to the state and it was turned into a museum. For years, schools around the state would make field trips to the house. The house was also used to host community events such as Chamber of Commerce meetings.

When the apocalypse began, the Governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency and requested government assistance in handling the outbreak, bringing in FEMA. FEMA chose the Barrington House as one of its safe zones, bringing trailers as well as security, and supplies. As survivors began to arrive at Hilltop, they found themselves abandoned. Like every other government and military authority across the United States, FEMA abandoned Hilltop, leaving the survivors to fend for themselves. However, due to their location at Hilltop, the survivors saw potential. The terrain offered fertile land for crops, while the hill they presided on offered them an advantage of seeing oncoming survivors and the zombies. There were barns for animals, blacksmith shop and the historic house was built before modern technology like electricity. At some point, they even used lumber and tools from a nearby power mill to build a large wall around Hilltop’s perimeter.

Hilltop is a character in the show and hopefully turned some people onto fans of living history museums or historic house museums. Where would you go if there was an apocalypse? Would you go to Rose Hill Mansion?

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