Valley wrangle: Museum wins mill squabble

Over the objections of preservationists, the Frontier Culture Museum has signed a deal to buy a historic Shenandoah County mill that it will move to a reconstructed 1850s-style village.

The Museum signed the contract October 13, museum executive director John Avoli says. He declines to disclose the purchase price.

Shenandoah County preservationists organized a foundation to buy the 240-year-old structure near the West Virginia border and raised about $200,000 to pay the asking price and keep it where it is.

But the owner, Shenandoah apple orchard owner Gordon D. Bowman II, believed the building's long-term interests would be best served by Frontier Culture's $1.2 million preservation plan, Avoli says.

Disassembly will begin by spring, according to Avoli, and the museum aims to have the building reconstructed in Staunton by 2007.

The Zirkle Mill was built by one of the Valley's first German settlers around 1760 in Forestville. It last served as a mill in the 1950s and most recently was used as a furniture workshop beginning in the 1980s, according to the foundation.

Frontier Culture wants to feature the building as part of a $10.5 million expansion of museum exhibits.

The museum displays links between 18th-century farms in Europe and the homesteads of the valley's early European settlers.

Frontier Culture Museum, new home of Zirkle Mill