Staunton's loss: Zirkle Mill gains new owner


A Shenandoah County treasure is now in the hands of a preservation group. On January 5, Robert Andrews and his sister, Sherryl Belinsky, descendants of the Zirkle family, purchased the historic Zirkle Mill.

"This is a win-win situation," says David Zirkle, president of the Zirkle Mill Foundation. "The mill stays intact in Forestville under the stewardship of preservationist-minded individuals, and Shenandoah County retains one of its oldest historic treasures."

Andrews and Belinsky had been involved in negotiations with the mill's former owner, Sonny Bowman, for several weeks leading up to last week's news.

Last year, the Museum of American Frontier Culture in Staunton negotiated with Bowman to purchase the 1760 mill and move it to the Queen City to serve as the centerpiece of a new education-themed village.

Gov. Mark Warner nixed those plans in July.

Andrews' goal is to use the mill as an education attraction. "Our mantra is preservation, restoration, and education," he says.

Bowman declined to comment.

Frontier Culture Museum executive director John Avoli says the museum's executive committee is awaiting revisions to the development's site plans before deciding what to do next.

Andrews' efforts had the support of the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities– which included Zirkle Mill on a list of the Commonwealth's most-endangered historic properties earlier this year.

"Zirkle Mill is important not only because of its own unique history but also because of its position in the Forestville community," APVA executive director Elizabeth Kostelny says.

The Zirkle Mill