Remembering the 2011 Virginia Earthquake

The stabilized Mill walls.

The stabilized Mill walls.

As we stand in the Mill, staring up at the remaining five stories of loose stones that make up the structure’s walls, one of the most common questions we get during tours has to do with the earthquake that shook our region in late August 2011.  How badly was the Mill damaged?  How many stones fell?

The short answer is that there was no additional damage and that the walls stayed firmly in place.  But that was only possible due to the remarkable stabilization of the Mill made possible by Cintec America.

The 1998 arson that all but destroyed the Mill, left its walls incredibly fragile.  Rather than attempt to restore the Mill – a prospect that structural engineers have cautioned against – Turn the Mill Around Campaign chose to preserve the structure as a ruin.  But how could it be made safe for the public to enjoy?  TTMAC contacted numerous conservation firms, hearing again and again ‘It can’t be done,’ until we finally discovered Cintec.

Cintec’s unique stabilization system, originally developed in Europe for historic castle ruins, was accomplished first by drilling through the stone walls from the top down, inserting a threaded rod covered by a long fabric tube into the void left by the drill, and then injecting the tube with a mortar-like compound.  Finally, they installed a series of cross beams.  The whole process of stabilizing all four of the Mill’s walls took over two years to complete, but the results are walls that resist both side to side and inward and outward motion.

Thanks to innovations in conservation, our Mill has been preserved for many years to come.  Be sure to visit us soon!

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