Madison Heights, VA - Just about everyone in Amherst County has seen or taken pictures of the Brightwell's Mill. Now the family that owns it needs your help in restoring it for generations to come.
Ricky Brightwell is on a mission to get his family's mill on the National Register of Historic Places. But without having it designated as a non-profit, and risking giving up the rights to keep it in his family -- he isn't eligible for public grants. So, he's asking for the community's help instead.
The years have rolled by since the old water wheel has been able to turn on its own.
"It's home and there's not many more of these around," Brightwell said, pointing to his family's mill.
He grew up helping his father unload the wheat trucks at the flour mill, childhood memories now at risk of disappearing.
"It was in such bad shape when we started, I was afraid it was gonna collapse and fall in," Brightwell said of the deteriorating structure.
Since renovations at Brightwell's Mill started in January, they've repaired most of the flooring, cleaned up the old machinery, and replaced several beams of water-damaged timber.
But, they've hit one major roadblock: money. Brightwell says renovations have exceeded $20,000. So the family's pleas for help went public.
"We just want to save this landmark," he explained.
They've received nearly 500 likes on The Brightwell's Mill Restoration Facebook page, and local businesses including Lynchburg Steel, BMG Metals and the Lowe's in Madison Heights have donated their time and supplies.
And with a few more donations, you can keep this project, this dream moving.
"Especially when the water wheel is turning, it's just a unique sound that you can't duplicate it," Brightwell said.
To donate supplies or money, visit Brightwell's Mill Restoration Facebook page.
You can also send checks to Brightwell's Mill Restoration, c/o Ricky Brightwell 151 Yorkshire Place, Madison Heights, VA 24572.