[cleeng_content id="456460939" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]CHARLES TOWN – Feagans Mill is in trouble, according to a state historical preservation nonprofit, but it could be restored to working condition.
That has been the dream of the Daniel Lutz, the mill’s owner, since he inherited the property from his grandfather.
The Preservation Alliance of West Virginia will announce today that Feagan’s Mill has been added to its Endangered Property List.
“It’s the only remaining mill that is in almost-operable condition out of many mills that were once in this county,” said Curt Mason, who represents the Eastern Panhandle on the Preservation Alliance’s board. “Most of the mills have fallen down or burned.”
Feagan’s Mill was constructed in the early 1800s, though a nearby log cabin had been constructed in the late 1700s. It was originally outfitted with a wooden waterwheel, which was burned during the Civil War by the Union. Today the mill sports an iron waterwheel that was manufactured in Martinsburg.
But it also sits in disuse; Lutz hopes it will be grinding grain again one day soon.
Lutz said he plans to use the site as a tourist destination as well as a working mill. He says he will only grind old-school grains, not varieties that, as he says, originate “in a test tube.”
“I am very much in favor of consuming nongenetically modified foods when I can,” he said. “I will not willingly take genetically modified grains.”
Lutz said his plans have so far been held up by regulatory issues centered on the fact that the mill sits in an area designated as a flood plain. “If I could get cooperation of county officials I would restore the mill,” he said.
“The issue is how to proceed as long as it has this designation of being in a flood plain,” he said. “Where would an 18th century water-powered grist mill be located except it a flood plain? They don’t work well on mountaintops.”
Lutz says that there is no evidence there has ever been flooding at the mill – pointing out that the dirt floor of the building’s cellar has not seen water since the mill suffered a fire in the 1930s.
Mason said that the property’s designation will allow the Preservation Alliance to help Lutz work to restore the mill to working condition.
“The Preservation Alliance will send our field specialist that will assist with any questions the owner has about how to go about restoring it. We may help with some of the actual restoration.”
Feagan’s Mill is one of only six properties singled out by the Preservation Alliance as endangered this year.
“We have a competitive nomination process,” said Danielle LaPresta, executive director of the Preservation Alliance. “It is unique in that it is the oldest intact mill in Jefferson County, and possibly in the state.”
She said that the mill’s rural location and proximity to other historic structures also played a factor in the organization’s decision.
“We wanted to highlight it in its setting,” LaPresta said.