Grant to help mill property
CHARLES TOWN – The acquisition of historic property near Shepherdstown may be a little closer for a local organization, now that the West Virginia Department of Transportation has agreed to transfer two $100,000 grants to the Jefferson County Historic Landmarks Commission.
The grants had previously been allocated to the Jefferson County Commission to purchase the cement mill property, which hosted part of the Battle of Shepherdstown; however, in June, the commission rescinded a previous monetary commitment for purchase.
The DOT’s grants required a local match of $100,000, and the Civil War Trust has committed $100,000, which would satisfy the state grants’ match requirements. Shepherdstown Battlefield Preservation Association Inc. has raised $5,000 for the purchase, and Delegate John Doyle, D-Jefferson, has said he will put his $25,000 Community Participation Grant toward the purchase. Doyle also was instrumental in attaining the DOT grants.
Jefferson County Commissioner Frances Morgan, the commission’s liaison to the HLC, said the commission is pleased to receive the grants and that negotiations to purchase the property should be under way in the near future.
The property, which has access to the Potomac River, was used by Confederate troops as they retreated back to Virginia after the Battle of Antietam.
“This Historic Landmarks Commission was unanimous in embracing this opportunity, which I find absolutely tantalizing because … (the property) could take several different shapes,” Morgan said.
“It’s just a very interesting and sad bit of history. It also reinforces that … crossing was on the river because there aren’t very many good crossings.
“It’s got the Civil War history, it’s got connections back to Indian trails and passageways through this area and then it’s got a whole other layer – the industrial history piece of it with the cement mill,” she added.
If the property is acquired by the HLC, it is hoped that it could then be turned over to the National Park Service for incorporation into either Harpers Ferry National Historical Park or the Antietam National Battlefield.
The Jefferson County Commission had previously allocated $100,000 to be used for the purchase of the cement mill property, but the commission voted 3-2 in June to rescind that commitment. However, the commission did not rule out using a smaller amount of county money once a final price is negotiated.