You've probably passed it and wondered what it was, what it used to be and why it's there. The great, five-story, stone building that stands at Broad Run on the Prince William-Fauquier border north of Interstate 66 and Route 55 is the Beverly Mill, also known as the Chapman-Beverly Mill. The grist mill was built in 1742 and is a very historic property in Prince William County.
The mill is constructed of stone from a local quarry. In 1858, a fire damaged the mill, but it was rebuilt and the top two stories were added to the building.
The mill furnished food products during five wars, beginning with the French and Indian Wars. The mill played a critical role in the Battle of Thoroughfare Gap during the Civil War when forces took turns occupying the mill, said Frances Allshouse, the executive director of the Chapman-Beverly Mill Historic Site. The Union held the building until August 1862 when Confederate and Union Forces fought the battle. Confederate forces drove back the Union to proceed to the Second Manassas, Allshouse said. "Initially, it was occupied by the Confederacy. It was then taken over by the Union, who were trying to hold it to keep the Confederacy from joining up with troops that were basically getting ready to start the Battle of the Second Manassas. The Confederacy ended up pushing through and occupying the mill again."
The mill remained in operation until the 1940s. A second fire, caused by vandalism, gutted the structure in 1998. After the fire, the Turn the Mill Around Campaign, a nonprofit organization, began the work of stabilizing the walls in the mill.
With the mill now stabilized, plans call for pedestrian pathways around the mill for views of the millpond, the sluice gate, the flume and the 29-foot mill wheel. Long-range plans call for getting the mill wheel turning to produce a bit of hydro-electricity, Allshouse said.
The grounds around the mill also include the archeological remains of another mill, a family farmhouse, the family graveyard and several outbuildings.
The mill is currently closed for work, but is scheduled be open on Saturdays and Sundays beginning in the spring of 2018, Allshouse said.
For more information about Chapman's Mill, visit the county's website.