Two Prince William County sites among commonwealth’s most endangered, says Preservation Virginia

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The entrance to the The Chapman-Beverley Mill, located on the Broad Run River at Thoroughfare Gap, is unsafe until further stabilization is completed. (Courtesy Turn the Mill Around Campaign)

Two Prince William County sites are among the most endangered historic places in Virginia.

That’s according to Preservation Virginia, a statewide nonprofit that aims to sustain and support historic sites.

Chapman-Beverley Mill and Bristoe Station Battlefield are listed on the organization’s annual list of locales facing imminent or sustained threats.

Chapman-Beverley Mill in Broad Run, an 18th- and 19th-century gristmill considered to be among the tallest stacked stone buildings in the country, was damaged by arson in the late 1990s and requires maintenance to slow its deterioration, Preservation Virginia said.

Bristoe Station Battlefield, the location of two key Civil War battles – the Battle of Kettle Run and the Battle of Bristoe Station – is threatened by a warehouse development proposal.

“Historic places are at the forefront of debates about the environment, affordable housing, and smart growth,” Preservation Virginia CEO Elizabeth S. Kostelny said in a statement. “We need to work together to address these issues while preserving locations that still have so much to teach us about our collective past and our present. Once a historic place is demolished, it’s gone forever.”

A site plan for the proposed Trammell Crow warehouse and logistics center in western Prince William County on Bristoe Station Battlefield. (Courtesy Image)

Bristoe Station Battlefield

While much of the Bristoe Station Battlefield near Manassas is preserved by the county within Bristoe Station Battlefield Heritage Park, an 85-acre, industrially-zoned portion of the site belongs to Texas real estate developer Trammell Crow Co., owned by the family of prominent Republican donor Harlan Crow.

A subsidiary firm, Manassas Logistics Land Venture, LLC, has plans to build a 740,000-square-foot warehouse and logistics center with a parking lot on the battlefield, according to county documents.

The site, near the intersection of Bristow and Nokesville roads, was home to The Battle of Bristoe Station, fought in 1863, which resulted in hundreds of casualties. It marked the route of the advancement of Confederate Gen. William Kirkland’s brigade against the Union battle line, according to Preservation Virginia. After the Union victory, two brigades of the U.S. Colored Troops camped at the site to protect the railroad bridge over Broad Run.

The battlefield was initially added to the nonprofit’s list of most endangered historic places in 2014 because of growing industrial development pressures on civil war sites in Virginia.

“Recognizing that all communities need development to remain strong, Preservation Virginia and organizations such as the American Battlefield Trust strive to ensure that developments are planned in such a way as to protect irreplaceable historic battlefields whose historic significance is fixed permanently by events that happened at precise, unmoving places,” the nonprofit said.

John DePue, Coles District representative on the Prince William County Historical Commission, is at the forefront of working to protect the battlefield. But because the property is already zoned industrial, he and other development opponents have little in the way of leverage to halt the proposal.

“We are limited in our ability to regulate or prevent what we consider a calamity on what is, to me, the most historically significant property in Prince William County that is unprotected in any way,” DePue said.

The suggested solution put forward by Preservation Virginia is to try to reach a compromise with the developer to modify the site plan to preserve more of the battlefield.

But it appears little has been done to influence the project’s scope as it continues to make its way through county approvals, according to DePue.

Chapman-Beverley Mill

The Chapman-Beverley Mill, located on the Broad Run River at Thoroughfare Gap – straddling Prince William and Fauquier counties – was first built in 1742, probably by slaves who quarried the stone from the nearby Bull Run Mountains, according to the nonprofit. The structure was rebuilt in 1852, when the Manassas Gap Railroad was completed. It produced grain and flour, feeding the Shenandoah Valley during the Revolutionary and Civil wars.

“Preserving historic mills is important to the public’s understanding of the synergies between communities and local industries,” Preservation Virginia said. “Stabilizing and opening the Chapman-Beverley Mill to the public would be an opportunity to share the mill’s rich local history, and be a companion to the Bull Run Mountains Natural Area Preserve, a 2,486-acre regional recreational and environmental preserve that straddles Virginia’s Prince William and Fauquier counties.”

In 1998, the mill was damaged by arson that accelerated the need for additional maintenance. A nonprofit organization, Turn The Mill Around Campaign, in recent years took ownership of the property and began working to stabilize the mill and improve public access to it.

The nonprofit’s plans call for pedestrian pathways to be constructed around the mill to provide views of it. Visitors could enter the mill and gain a greater appreciation of its enormity and the stone work. Proposed interpretive signs would explain the milling process and the impact of the industrial site on the evolving economy of the area. Plans also call for the restoration and reuse of the stone mill store as an information outpost.

Recently, stone pieces from some of the structure’s window lintels have come loose, and the entrance into the mill itself is unsafe until further stabilization is completed, according to Adrienne Garreau, a representative with the campaign’s board.

“We look forward to raising the funds to accomplish this, complete the master plan with its notable features, and invite the public to full access in enjoyment and education of all that is entailed in this historic site,” she said on behalf of the board. “We have for 26 years celebrated and provided safeguard to Chapman-Beverley Mill from all degradation.”

This article was written by WTOP’s news partner and republished with permission. Sign up for’s free email subscription today.


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