Staunton-bound: Zirkle Mill move still on


A Shenandoah County group working to preserve a 245-year-old Forestville mill is continuing its efforts to convince officials at the Frontier Culture Museum in Staunton to leave the structure where it has been since the mid-18th century.

"We're still trying to keep the lines of communication open with the museum and reach a compromise everybody can be happy with," says Leslie Meaux, spokesperson for the Zirkle Mill Foundation. The group has raised $230,000 toward the purchase of the grist mill and surrounding property and plans to operate it as a tourist attraction and education facility.

But the Frontier Culture Museum plans to move the mill to the premises of the nonprofit education facility near Staunton.

Attempts by the Foundation to meet with the Museum's board of trustees to talk about alternatives to the move were rebuffed last week, according to Meaux.

"We're disappointed that they refused our request for a meeting because we feel we have some viable alternatives to offer," says Meaux, pointing to the Foundation's offer to help with costs of rescinding the Museum's contract to purchase the mill and to discuss an offer by former Zirkle Mill owner Glen Hofecker to advise the Museum on building a reproduction.

Executive director John Avoli says the Museum plans to move ahead with the relocation. Contractors have until April 12 to submit bids for moving the mill to the Queen City, he says.

Meaux says the Zirkle Mill Foundation will not abandon its goal of preserving the mill in its current location– "until the last board is taken down."

"What is most frustrating is that we have a local group who has raised private money to preserve this mill at its current location. And its efforts are being blocked by a museum that is supported by state taxpayers." Meaux says. "Shouldn't the state be encouraging what we're trying to do here? Shouldn't it be interested in leveraging private money and private efforts?"

The Zirkle Mill

Staunton Mayor John Avoli