Preservation Pennsylvania announced over the weekend that a new future has been secured for the Heishman Mill in West Pennsboro Township in Cumberland County.
The nonprofit organization has reached a sales agreement with the Estate of Will Foshag and the new owner of the mill, Randy Heishman. Situated along the Conodoguinet Creek, the mill was built circa 1805 and once belonged to Heishman’s great-grandfather. A ceremony marking the official transfer of the keys took place Saturday afternoon.
The property was transferred to Preservation Pennsylvania by the estate of Foshag, a long-time steward and past owner of the mill. Preservation Pennsylvania is an organization dedicated to the preservation of historically and architecturally significant properties.
“Guided by Foshag’s wishes to preserve the mill in perpetuity to inspire future generations, executor Davis Tracy sought a preservation-minded new owner,” said Julia Chain, program director of the organization. “Tracy worked tirelessly to advocate for the property, finding people and organizations that care about its preservation. He built positive partnerships that resulted in a successful outcome.”
Cumberland County native Randy Heishman and his family have ancestral ties to the property which, in the 1920s, was purchased by Benjamin F. Heishman. That Heishman made extensive repairs to the property transitioning its operation from a 19th-century gristmill to a roller mill.
A history buff, Heishman completed a renovation of the Samuel Weakley Tavern in Penn Township, where he uncovered such hidden architectural features as the original beams, a doorway and a fireplace, Chain said. “His family connection and prior restoration experience made him an ideal new steward for the mill property.”
Preservation Pennsylvania recently completed the sale of the mill and its accompanying home and outbuildings to Randy Heishman and his family. The organization was also able to work out an agreement where the proceeds from the sale would be used to help repair the mill and the dam, Chain said.
The transaction also added an easement that would protect the property from future development and alterations that would negatively impact its historic nature. Prior to its purchase by Benjamin Heishman, the mill was operated by the Diller family.
Randy Heishman and his family plan to restore the mill, which is considered eligible for placement on the National Register of Historic Places. Preservation Pennsylvania plans to prepare a nomination within the year for a listing of the mill.
A final use for the mill is under discussion, Chain said. Because of its significance to the agricultural history of the township, one idea may be to develop the mill into a learning center.