The restoration of an 18th-century mill that burned in an arson late last year got a big boost when the nonprofit group that owns the mill was granted $300,000 in federal funds to help pay for repairs.
Beverley Mill was built of stone in 1742 by Jonathan and Nathaniel Beverley in Thoroughfare Gap, just east of the Fauquier County line. The building remained a working mill until 1951.
Although boarded up for many years, fire officials have said the mill has long been a gathering place for teenagers, who have been blamed for several fires there.
The October fire gutted the interior, destroying the remaining machinery and producing heat intense enough to crack some of the old stones.
Ellen PercyMiller, executive director of the Turn the Mill Around Campaign, said it would cost about $425,000 to repair the structure. Although the $300,000 grant is not enough to pay for the entire renovation, "[it] is such a good chunk that it'll be easier to get other donations because people will know it's really going to happen," she said yesterday.
The grant, administered through the Virginia Commonwealth Transportation Board, requires that 20 percent in matching funds be raised from other sources, PercyMiller said, so her group is still looking for donations from others interested in preserving the mill.
To restore the mill, the walls of the building must be stabilized, and repairs need to be made to some of the stones. The mill store also will be turned into an interpretive center for visitors who want to learn more about the mill's history and that of surrounding Thoroughfare Gap, the site of a Civil War battle. PercyMiller has said an interpretive center would add to the array of historic sites in the area, which include Manassas National Battlefield Park.
In addition to money, Turn the Mill Around also needs volunteers who can help gather information about the mill or help with landscaping.
For instance, PercyMiller said someone is needed to chop down trees, identify mill artifacts, give advice about nearby cherry trees gnawed by beavers and transcribe tapes of interviews with longtime residents of the county who have remembrances of the mill.
"Even though it looks like we've got all this money, we're still relying on everybody's good nature to get this done," PercyMiller said.
CAPTION: Fire gutted the historic Beverley Mill in Thoroughfare Gap in October. Renovations are expected to cost about $425,000.