ABILENE, Texas - A Big Country family is working to renovate the old Abilene mill building and turn it into a winery and event center.
After getting rezoning approval from the Abilene City Council in January, the McDowell's started construction to transform the inside and outside of the property.
"That's always great when you can find something with history. And just redoing an old building and keeping it from being demolished is always good too," said Bridget McDowell, co-owner of the winery. "We're excited about it coming back into play in to Abilene."
McDowell and her daughter bought the old Texas Mill and Elevator Company building on Locust Street in October.
"When we started looking at it structurally it was just built when things were built right," McDowell said.
The building was built in 1910. After five months of construction the McDowell's expect construction to be done and the business to open May 1. McDowell said they already have weddings booked almost every month from June until February 2015.
"We're going to have a huge outdoor area. We have fire pits and covered gazebos and an outdoor space for weddings and outdoor large parties," McDowell said.
There is a lot of open space for when there aren't events there also.
"We're going to have individual seating for if you want to just come one evening and have a glass of wine and just sit and relax and feel like you're somewhere other than West Texas," said McDowell.
The McDowell's decision to restore The Mill is something the Abilene Preservation League is very excited about.
"We advocate for not only keeping the stories, but the built buildings in place and finding new uses for them," Abilene Preservation League Executive Director Bill Minter said.
McDowell said although it's been a lot of work, she's happy with the way things are going so far.
"We're so proud of the building that, even if you don't want a glass of wine or even if you don't need to have an event, we want you to come by and look at the building. We want to show it off," McDowell said.
Inside the building they will offer wine, craft beers and cigars. They'll be growing much of the grapes at their vineyard in Callahan County.
The Mill Winery & Events will be open Wednesday through Saturday evenings and for scheduled events.
They open May 1, but they are already booking events. To do so visit their website.
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