Footsteps in the Past…
The Edinburg Mill has been a centerpiece of Edinburg, Virginia society since it was constructed by Major George Grandstaff in 1848.
During the Civil War the mill became the target of Union General Philip Sheridan’s infamous Burning of the Valley. Sheridan’s campaign of destruction attempted to neutralize the Shenandoah Valley as the “Breadbasket of the Confederacy” by destroying or capturing barns, mills, livestock and crops.
Local legend dictates that Nellie Grandstaff (Koontz) and Melvina Grandstaff (Callohan), granddaughters of Major George, saved the Mill. The mill was put to the torch but Nellie and Melvina begged the general to spare the mill. They spoke of their grandfather, who had served in the Mexican Wars, and who lived there in Edinburg. Sheridan, perhaps out of respect for Major Grandstaff, gave the girls a note telling the soldiers to put out the fire. With the help of the townspeople, they formed a bucket-brigade, and only a large beam was burned in the mill. Jokingly, Sheridan claimed his reward asking the girls if they would name their little dog after him. Spiritedly, Nellie said she would not even name a dog after him! Evidence of the attempted burning is still visible within the Mill.
The mill remained a going concern, grinding grain into feed for the local farming community, from its opening until 1978 when it closed as a functioning mill. It was purchased by Jim and Becky Ellis who had the creativity and foresight to see the potential of the old mill, and when they converted it into a restaurant, it literally put Edinburg on the map. The Edinburg Ole Time Festival grew out of their work at the mill and has continued to be a drawing card for tourists each year.
The Edinburg Mill Restaurant was in operation under a number of owners from 1979 until it finally closed its doors in July of 1998. For the second time in its life, the mill was in jeopardy.
Creating a Pathway……
It didn’t take long for the action-oriented folks of Edinburg to recognize the value of the mill in terms of its history and its importance to the community.
The Town of Edinburg partnered with the Edinburg Heritage Foundation to purchase the historic Edinburg Mill in February of 2000. The project was named “Save The Mill” and was first and foremost a historic preservation effort. With a little luck, a lot of perseverance, a lot of work and a lot of money, the citizens of Edinburg are once again seeing the Mill as a center of activity.
The Mill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an individual property and it is located in the Edinburg Historic District, which is also on the National Register. The Mill is also a designated Virginia Historic Landmark. The Town had a historic preservation easement placed on the property that is held by the Department of Historic Resources. It is one of the few mills along the historic Valley Pike (Route 11) to survive the Civil War and serves as a prominent and scenic resource along this route, which is a designated Virginia Scenic By-way.
The Edinburg Heritage Foundation has adapted the mill and created a true destination in Edinburg. The facility houses a museum with exhibits dedicated to the history of the Town, the history of the mill and the history of transportation in the Shenandoah Valley. The museum also has a 50-seat theater featuring a locally produced film entitled “The Burning”, based on the book by John Heatwole. In addition to the Museum, two gift shops and a visitor center are already in operation, two banquet rooms are in frequent use, and a restaurant is still available for lease.