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Gristmill adorns ornament

November 20, 1997

Gristmill adorns ornament

By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Staff Writer, Waynesboro

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - It's a lot closer to Mercersburg, Pa., than it is to Greencastle, but the newest design for the sixth in the series of Christmas ornaments offered by the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce this year is rich in Greencastle history.

Anderson's Gristmill on the west Branch of the Conococheague Creek supplied Greencastle area residents with ground cornmeal, wheat, flour and animal feed through the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries, enough of a historic connection to Greencastle to warrant its place as Christmas ornament, said Lori Coover, chamber president.

Anderson's Gristmill dates to 1765. The first mill on the site was built by the Irwinton family. Chester Anderson bought it in 1917 and ran it until his death. Chester's son Harry took it over and ran it as a commercial operation until 1981. It's still open today, but only for tours by appointment. During tours, Anderson demonstrates the mill's water turbines, rope hoists, wooden cogs, belts, pulleys and shafts.

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The ornament program started in 1992 with Martin's Mill Bridge. The 1993 ornament featured the Greencastle Train Station, followed in 1994 by the town clock. In 1995, the year Rescue Hose Co. No. 1 celebrated its 100th anniversary, an antique fire pumper was the subject. Last year it was the Stover House.

Coover started the series and each year's design. This year, because the gristmill is out of town, she got the blessing of the chamber board, she said.

Each ornament is dated and numbered to a limit of 350.

"Once we sell all the numbers, there won't be any more," Coover said.

Collectors choose their own number or are given one at random. Then they buy a ornament every year with the same number to end up with a series, Coover said.

"Those in the series will become more valuable over the years than those that are sold without numbers," Coover said.

Originally Coover said the chamber had decided to stop the series after 12 years, but that's no longer the case.

"There are plenty of historic places and things to do yet," she said. "I don't know how far we'll go."

She said she hasn't chosen next year's subject yet. "I won't have to decide until July," she said.

People holding numbers are notified by mail when the new ornament is available.

There are less than 50 numbers left, but enough unsold ornaments from 1992 to 1997 to make up entire collections of all six years, Coover said.

She said about 300 ornaments are sold every year.

The ornaments sell for $13 each. They are made of an ivory-colored resin encased in brass. The image is etched in the manner of scrimshaw, Coover said.

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