History of the White Star Mill
On July 1st, 1890, the firm of White Star Mills was created and comprised of Michael Kivlighan, IsaacWitz, Charles Holt, and Andrew Bowling.
In 1897, Bowling withdrew from the firm and his associates acquired his interest in the mill.
The families of the remaining associates continued ownership throughout the years until the sale in 1963 to Wilkins-Rogers Milling Company of Washington, D.C.
The association’s purpose was to construct the building and install modern machinery for manufacturing wheat and corn feed, meal and flour.
The main brand of flour was manufactured under the brand name of Melrose and was a staple in southern kitchens for the entire life of the mill.
Other brands such as Kansas Rocket, Dixie Biscuit, Gurley’s Carolina Queen, Matchless Plain Flours, and White Star Feed were also milled here.
The Edward P. Allis Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the largest and most successful mill builder in the world, received the contract and installed the machinery that produced the flour and feed grain.
The stone for the foundation of the mill was quarried less than a mile away in Staunton. The bricks were also manufactured locally. The beams used to construct the mill are Wormy Chestnut and are fire-rated longer than steel beams.
These trees were enormous but were wiped out by a fungal blight brought into the U.S from Asia at the turn of the century. The Mill’s equipment operated regularly until updated from coal to electric in the mid 1940’s
With the passing of Michael Kivlighanin in 1942, his son, J. Harold Kivlighan, obtained ownership and became manager. Harold immediately launched plans to update and modernize the mill, converting it from steam power to full electric operation.
Kivlighan instigated the construction of five concrete silos, increasing wheat storage capacity to 225,000 bushels. He installed improved-milling machinery, effectively increasing output from 600 to 1,000 barrels every 24 hours.
The Mill successfully operated every year until 1963 when the Washington milling company acquired it. The building sat derelict until it was bought by HHK properties in the 1970’s.
HHK Properties consists of the families of J.B. (Brownie) Hanger, Cecil Hanger, and Jack Kiger. They started the restoration of the building, but it was a slow process.
It was used for storage until 1980 when the 1st restaurant was opened there under the name of White Star Mill; it had 3 different owners until 1991 when it closed for a short period.
In March of 1992, Ron Bishop and Terry Holmes became the 4th owners. This started the process of reopening the restaurant under the name Mill Street Grill, which came from the former mill’s address.
We opened a casual theme restaurant. We specialize in good comfort food with lots of variety and fast friendly service, all in the confines of a 19th-century flour mill.
At Mill Street Grill everyone knows your name, we treat you like family, but never ask you to wash the dishes.
For over 30 years we have seen a lot of change in Staunton, Virginia and we have been glad to be a part of that change.