Madison Heights, VA - The family who owns the old Brightwell Mill in Madison Heights needed some help to renovate and repair it, and that wish recently came true.
"Constantly we have people that come by and say 'oh yeah, I came with my granddaddy down here to the mill and brought wheat to the mill," said Ricky Brightwell who owns the mill.
For Ricky Brightwell and his brother, the Brightwell's Mill is a part of their heritage.
"There's so many old gristmills and all throughout Virginia and all over the country that have just deteriorated and rotted and rusted away, and we just didn't want ours to do that," said Brightwell.
The Mill has been a part of their family for almost one hundred years, and it hasn't been a working mill in nearly 20. Last year, the mill began an initiative to raise money to restore the mill. Their main goals: getting the water wheel turning and redoing the support timbers in the building. Both have been accomplished.
"The building is as secure as it's been in many a year," said Brightwell.
With support for the community the mill has been able to replace this header box that is on top of the wheel. A header box once rotten and overgrown, now keeps the wheel turning. Brightwell credits all this to the many donations that have come in from "mill enthusiasts" all over the state.
"To raise money in a tight economy, it's tough- but there's a lot of interest in old mills," said Brightwell.
The Mill is open on weekends for people to come and explore. Brightwell says it's a popular spot for artists to come paint as well as photographers who come to shoot anything from engagement photos to prom pictures.
"Come on down to the mill and take a look around," said Brightwell.
Brightwell says they still have a lot to do. Their next goal is to get the grindstones back in place. The hope is to see the mill fully-functioning once again.