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Virginia's Chapman's Mill still stands tall over the centuries Special

By Leigh Goessl     Oct 15, 2012 in Travel
Broad Run - Chapman's Mill is a stone structure that dates back to the 18th Century. The once prospering business and property played a significant role in U.S. history. Today, the building now stands in ruins, after falling victim to a tragic fire in 1998.
Located in Northern Virginia, the property's history spans generations. This historic structure was originally built in 1742 by the father and son team of Jonathan and Nathaniel Chapman.
In the 1850s, the family expanded the mill, as the newly constructed Manassas Gap Railroad had been completed and, as a result, the mill enjoyed good prosperity. By 1858 it had grown to become seven stories tall, "making it a model of agricultural technology", according to The mill is believed to be the tallest stone structure in the U.S.
During the Civil War, prior to the First Battle of Manassas, the Confederate Army used the mill as a meat curing warehouse and distribution center. As the army retreated post-battle, they burned the mill and its contents to prevent it from being taken by the advancing Union troops. After the war, reportedly John Chapman sued the U.S. Government for damages, however lost his case.
His business never recovered. A plaque on site states, "Ruined economically, physically and emotionally by the mill's wartime destruction, Chapman suffered a mental breakdown in 1862." He was committed to an asylum and died four years later.
A family named Beverley restored the mill in 1876, and the revived business took on their family name. A store appears to have been once adjacent to the mill.
Over the next several decades the mill was operational, until it closed its doors in 1951.
Today, the building stands as a historic landmark, but is only a hollow shell of what it once was. Unfortunately, the building fell victim to arson in 1998 and the interior was completely destroyed. The stone exterior remains intact, but needed to be stabilized.
Today, efforts continue to maintain the Mill as a "ruin site" that highlights the architecture and history behind this structure. This page describes in more detail the restoration/stabilization efforts that have been taking place. Additionally, there are other structures nearby, and according to information onsite, a home and cemetery remain. However, the gates to access across the railroad tracks were locked during my visit.
Drivers traveling on I-66 in Northern Virginia can easily see the structure alongside the highway, which is how this writer came to visit after passing it numerous times over the last few years. Despite its close vicinity to I-66, there is no direct exit off the Interstate to access the mill. The address is 17504 Beverley Mill Rd., Broad Run, Va.; visitors will have to take other roads to reach the mill (I found it easily via GPS with the address, however it did not show up during any GPS search other than with the address). A sign indicated the area is only open on weekends.
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