Members of the Edinburg Heritage Foundation hope to chip away at the almost $300,000 debt still remaining from the Edinburg Mill renovation project with a new fundraising effort.
Clyde Beachy, president of the foundation, said this is the first time since the project started about 12 years ago that the foundation has actually reached out to the public with an organized appeal.
In June, the mill was reopened as a three-story museum, gift shop and event and restaurant venue.
The structure, built in 1848, is one of the few buildings in the central Valley that made it through the Civil War relatively unscathed. Most structures were destroyed during the war, with most intentionally burned near the conflict’s end.
The museum has regular showings of the documentary “The Burning,” the 2008 film based on area historian John Heatwole’s book on the 1864 Union campaign intended to burn the food supply in the Valley.
The building operated as a mill until 1979, when it was converted into a restaurant. For the next two decades, ownership of the mill changed hands five times before closing in July 1998.
Edinburg Mayor Dan Harshman said the Heritage Foundation raised money for two years before purchasing it in 2000. The foundation owns the building in conjunction with the town.
A small group of volunteers worked steadily for the better part of a decade to renovate the structure.
Harshman said that funds were limited, which is why the foundation is still paying down a sizeable loan. Much of the project’s cost, about $750,000, was funded through grants. The entire renovation cost $1.35 million.
“We’d just like to get that loan paid off,” Beachy said. “We thought this would be a good time to start some strong fundraising activity.”
As of last week, Beachy said the foundation had raised $11,000 toward the cause through mailings, emails, phone calls and other efforts. He said there is no timeline for the fundraiser, and that for now it will go on indefinitely.
Since June, the museum has been open seven days a week. The banquet hall and restaurant have been rented out for several community events, and a Shenandoah Forum event is scheduled to be held there this month.
“The comments and reaction that we get [in regards to the museum] are very satisfying to the foundation,” Beachy said. “For a very small town like ours, we believe we have a very nice museum to highlight this part of the Valley and Shenandoah County.”
Eventually, Harshman said, he’d like to see a permanent tenant run a restaurant out of the first floor again. So far, though, no interested tenants have panned out.
Anyone wishing to donate to the fundraiser is asked to call the Edinburg Mill at (540) 984-8400, or visit the website at www.edinburgmill.com.