Members of the Eagle Point community and beyond are remembering the Butte Creek Mill fire on Christmas Day and for them, it’s a reminder of why they’re so passionate about saving this piece of history.
“There was not a darn thing anyone could do to stop it,” said Butte Creek Mill Foundation Vice President Don Blaser, “everybody was upset.”
It’s a day that’s hard to forget for many in the Rogue Valley.
“It’s the end of this whole era that we’ve all lived our whole lives by,” said Blaser.
A fire ripped through Eagle Point’s historic Butte Creek Mill, burning the 143-year-old building to the ground and destroying nearly everything inside.
“This ability to be able to walk back in time to this old store where they were still stone-grinding things, it was a place where you could actually visualize things happening a long time ago,” Blaser said.
It was the last of it’s kind west of the Mississippi.
Jackson County Fire District Three arrived within minutes after the fire broke out, but it was too late.
Flames overtook the building – which sits on the national registry of historic places.
“It’s very exciting to see it come back to life again,” Blaser said.
Since then, people all across the country have joined the Rogue Valley in raising money to rebuild this piece of the town’s history.
“I’ve never been on a project with more community support,” said Butte Creek Mill Executive Director Maryanne Pitcher.
Pitcher said she was shocked at the readiness of the community to band together in an effort to restore the mill.
“I think people, everyone, has a story about their time at the mill,” Pitcher said, “maybe it was a field trip, or when family comes to town you take them there.”
But from the ashes, comes new life.
Over 30 percent of the original structure remained, making it able to stay on the National Registry of Historic Places.
“We’re doing everything we can to basically rebuild it in the same footprints, so even the part that’s not preserved it’s why we hired timber framers to rebuild the structure just like it was built in 1872,” said Pitcher.
The foundation says they are just 600,000 dollars away from their 2.5 million dollar funding goal.
They’re hoping to close in on two-million by the end of the year.
“Like we say we’re rising from the ashes, it’s very exciting,” said Pitcher.
The foundation says the only thing they’re adding to the blueprints is a new fire suppression system, to ensure the mill is around for many generations to come.
The mill is expected to re-open in spring of next year.
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