Ramble On

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Lynchburg...Next Project

From the lobby of the Craddock-Terry, it was hard to miss the fact that something was going on in the old mill next door.  Later on our hosts confirmed that the mill is going through a renovation to become apartments, and that they had arranged a site visit for Sunday afternoon.

This development is rushed a little bit - the developer was forced movement on the project because of the condition of the building.  It's not an economy that you would rush into residential development like this, except that the fire risks with this place were extreme and even threatened the nearby structures, if one were to start.

I took a load of photos in that old dusty space inside, but will reserve most of them, choosing only a few highlights.  Like the old shoe factory and tobacco warehouse, where the hotel is now located, the building is totally timber framed.  There is termite damage in evidence, but since the live loads here aren't what they used to be when the mill was active (as late as the 1960's, I understand), what you have is a lot of redundant load capacity in the framing so some of it can probably come down during demo, as opposed to extensively repairing or replacing it.

I'm not the biggest fan of round steps, but this entryway into the mill is interesting since an old millstone was incorporated as the top step.  I'm sure some element of this fixture will be saved in the final, but I doubt it will stand as a main doorway into the building.

It was interesting to walk through the place - ghostly images from the sharp angled light of unglazed windows, dust clouds coming up with the passage of all us tourists, and most impressively, views of machinery for a production system from the industrial age - set us up for an adventure of the imagination...not only of what kind of living spaces this building will include, but of the lifestyle, noise and constant danger of all these machines at work with people crowded into the space too closely.

As I understand it, while we did not go down into the substructure, there is an old canal under the building that probably was used to bring water into the production facilities - the river is quite nearby, probably less than 500 feet away.  There are also old tunnels and culverts that we used with conveying systems to the railroad tracks.  There are right-of-ways for CSX and Norfolk Southern that run along the river next to the mill, and an old siding next to the mill that probably served to load out finished goods.

A set of silos is also nearby, on the side of the mill opposite the tracks, you can see it in the photo of the siding.  It doesn't seem an optimal layout, but since it is further uphill, it may have been placed there for flood plain purposes.  These are planned for a future renovation, when they will be repurposed into apartments also.  We saw some preliminary plans for this development - some of the spaces have the potential to be quite grand, with 18 foot diameter rooms and sweeping views of the river. 

A final note on the silos, this inventory/schedule board is still standing in the old mill.  There are still production notes on it - maybe 50 years later, since the mill ceased operation!

Here is a view of the penthouse space at the top of the mill building.  My sense of it is this will be a great apartment someday.
The last photo I will share from the mill is this one of the "man lift" - this is a single person elevator!  It runs on a conveyor belt system.  There was a little platform to stand on, with handholds above the head to cling to...you had to be trained to use it, and I imagine that there were a few injuries associated with its use over the years.  The warning sign here isn't something you can just blow off either.  I think I would have to use the stairs, myself.
I have one last Lynchburg post that I'm saving for tomorrow, then we will get back to Page County and Hawksbill Cabin material.

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