The Breneman-Turner Mill, now a part of the Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center of Harrisonburg, VA, is truly a remarkable landmark that chronicles the area’s history and culture.
The four-story mill of stone and brick was built around 1800 by Abraham Breneman – originally from Pennsylvania – on Linville Creek. As most mills of the time, The Breneman-Turner Mill served as a community center, as neighboring farmers brought in their grain for processing.
According to the tourist brochure, the Breneman-Turner Mill “is the only pre-Civil War mill remaining in Rockingham County with all the grist mill equipment still in place.” The structure survived “the burning of the Valley” by Union soldiers under the command of General Sheridan in 1864 because of the assistance of neighbors and customers of the mill.
Its last owner and operator was J. Howard Turner who purchased it in 1933 as a bachelor and operated the mill for 55 years until his death. Per their father’s wishes, Turner’s children donated the mill to the Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center in 2003.
The Breneman-Turner Mill has “been through the mill” so to speak, and has definitely shown its age. The deteriorating south wall was braced in 2005 while renovation funds were raised. This project was completed in 2009, resulting in the correction of a part of the wall out of plumb over 17 inches.
The Breneman-Turner Mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2006, is considered a Virginia Historical Landmark, and was added as a Civil War tour site in 2010 as part of the Shenandoah Valley Battlefield National Historic District.
Funds are still sought for continued restoration and donations are welcome.
Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center
PO Box 1563
Harrisonburg, VA 22803
Ken Weaver 540-833-1449 or 540-383-5436
Hours of Operation:
Open daily, all year round. For a tour, stories, or to observe grain grinding, please contact Mr. Ken Weaver at the telephone numbers noted above.
Breneman-Turner Mill tourist brochure. Valley Brethren-Mennonite Heritage Center, undated.