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Landmark Hilltop Cactus Sign Will Stand Tall For Next Generation

BOSTON (CBS) - Saving a Massachusetts landmark, the old Hilltop Steakhouse cactus will live on for the next generation. On Wednesday, WBZ got a behind the scenes look at the careful work being done to restore and update the icon. The goal is to save what they can of the past, while bringing the sign into the present.

Hilltop Steakhouse
Hilltop Steakhouse sign (WBZ-TV)

Most remember it fondly, the Hilltop in Saugus, scene of first dates, family get-togethers and of course, the cactus. Always the cactus. But when the Hilltop closed, people were worried that the landmark sign on Route 1 would face the wrecking ball.

"The cactus is still there. It's just brought back to life," says Raymond Brayton. His company, Barlo Signs in Hudson, NH has that job. "We've been asked to try and bring it back to as much of its original look as possible," he says.

Hilltop sign
Hilltop Steakhouse sign being restored (WBZ-TV)

Piece by piece, the original materials for the cactus are being cleaned and patched while new letters are being built and updated with LED lights that will cut power consumption by 75%. "People are going to see what they saw back in that day with a little bit of a today tweak to it," Brayton says.

When it's reconstructed, the sign will still say "Hilltop," but will also advertise the new development rising in place of the old steakhouse which will contain apartments, restaurants and shops. It will remain in the same spot it has always inhabited, guiding the way and lighting the Saugus night.

"A 67-foot cactus that completely illuminates, that was fabricated and engineered in the '60's, it's pretty amazing. We just can't wait to flip the switches and turn this on," Brayton says.

They hope to have the landmark ready to do just that by the end of October.

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