You can now own a piece of Chapman Beverley Mill. The Turn the Mill Around Campaign is launching an innovative new fundraiser to get the planned park underway this year. Adopt-A-Stone allows anyone to adopt one or more of the beautiful ancient stones that comprise the mill walls – the tallest stacked stone structure in the U.S. The campaign launches May 2-3 at the mill and continues through the next few months via the website.
The stones were born as liquid more than a billion years ago when two continents collided. Over millions of years, the continents separated and the liquid rock slowly cooled into a solid form known as quartzite. As the massive land forms spun, morphed and collided again, the quartzite surged upward into mountains that exist today. The Piedmont, separating the coastal plane to the east from the Blue Ridge to the west, is the backdrop for the Mill. The stones were quarried from the quartzite rocks behind the Mill over a period of more than 100 years, commencing in 1742. Slaves carried the stones off the mountain and placed them expertly so no mortar was needed to bind and stabilize them. Floors fashioned of chestnut were erected inside the mill, providing crucial structural support for the high walls. When the railroad was built through Thoroughfare Gap, the Mill prospered sufficiently that in 1848, it was expanded upwards by two stories to its current height. Whether part of the original construction or added later, all the stones today remain in place, most of them more than 270 years later.
After the devastating 1998 fire, which consumed the floors and the chestnut beams that kept them in place, the walls had to be stabilized to prevent them from collapsing inward. Starting from the top down, giant bits drilled through the stones, creating tubular spaces into which liquid polymers were poured. The man-made polymers, like the ancient stones themselves, hardened in place and today provide the structure to prevent the ruin from collapsing.
This remarkable testament to the geological birthright of our planet and man’s engineering skills was virtually untouched by the earthquake of 2011, which rocked the region and damaged many building and famous monuments, including the Washington Monument 50 miles east in DC. The stones offered today as part of the Adopt-a-Stone Campaign are a unique part of this story, an enduring legacy in which anyone can play a vital role.