Brightwells Mill Complex

VLR Listing Date


NRHP Listing Date


NRHP Reference Number


For more than 150 years, the Brightwells Mill Complex contributed to the production and commercial processing of grains in Amherst County, serving as a companion to other mills nearby. The focal point of surrounding farms during the early- to mid-20th-century, Brightwells was one of a few operating mills available to farmers in Amherst and adjoining counties. By the 1960s, it also was one of the last water-powered mills in the county. William Burford built the original mill prior to 1826 and a surviving ca. 1826 log house that was later incorporated into the existing miller’s house. The mill operated through the 19th century under successive owners who enlarged the complex. In 1942 a storm caused a flood that breached the mill’s 19th-century earthen-and-log dam and washed the mill and other buildings away, leaving behind only the mill stones and wheel. Soon thereafter, materials from the earlier mill were salvaged to rebuild a saw mill. Lumber was milled onsite and a new grain mill built. Then-owner Harmon Brightwell constructed new buildings on the property and remodeled and expanded the miller’s house. Brightwells Mill ceased processing grains for human consumption in 1965.

Last Updated: December 1, 2023

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VLR: Virginia Landmarks Register
NPS: National Park Service
NRHP: National Register of Historic Places
NHL: National Historic Landmark

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