Updated: Dec 20, 2019
As we pull into the gravel parking area, I look out the car window and see a large shingled building that has a very distinct look to it. We pile out of the cars and we can see a steel bridge over the dam. Students from the Mill School are streaming out of the building. We watch as one of the students runs across the bridge and up to Leza and says “You guys should follow me.” So we follow Benny back over the bridge and into the little yard in front of the building. We played some games with the fifth- sixth grade class from the Mill School. At that point Leza introduced us to Tony Grassi. He and his wife, Sally, bought the building when it was collapsing and falling into the river. They fixed it up and and are now renting space to The Mill school and The Lost Kitchen. He then gave us a tour. So first we went onto the bridge and Tony talked about the hydroelectric dam and the importance of paying attention to the water level.
We went around to the other side of the building and into The Lost Kitchen, and that was really cool to me because my mom used to work there but I had never been. We walked into the wine room and there were wine bottles on every surface!! I tried not to hit anything with my elbows.;) We then walked in to the dining room and Mr. Grassi talked about the big stone ring in the floor that, when the Mill was a working mill, ground all the wheat and
A lot of the gears and pulleys are still hanging from the ceiling. One funny story; there are eels in sandy stream (the stream next to the Mill) and one year some eels got sucked into the water turbine and got chopped up into little pieces. Benny was there when it happened, he said it was “Not nice”. Eel guts. Gross. Speaking of yumminess, I was pretty hungry but was learning so much that I wasn't paying attention to it. Eventually we did sit down and eat lunch, much to my delight… Then we all said good-bye to Mr Tony Grassi and everyone at the Mill School and got into the cars and drove back to Water Street Learning Center....
One week later… we watched the movie that they have on their website. I really enjoyed watching it. There was so much more to the story than what I knew. You really get into Tony Grassi’s head about why he decided to fix up the mill in the first place. The idea to came in 2006, they contacted the owner (at the time) in 2007, in 2011 they got a 18-month option to buy and in spring of 2012 they bought the building and the rehabilitation process started later in 2012.
As he put it: “Our hope in producing this site is that it will lead other people to appreciate the beauty and the utility of the old water-driven mills that were so prevalent in the northeast, serving as the focal points for their communities; and to inspire others to consider this kind of project elsewhere.”
If you want more information about the Freedom Mill go to their website here.
They have lots of great information that I have either forgotten, didn't hear, or have neglected to include in this blog.
Here is a link to the film. If you watch it; see if you can find me, I’m with my little sister when I was about eight, she was about four. Hint: I really like bunnies.
This was a great field trip in a long string of great field trips, but I think it was one of my favorites.
Thanks for reading!!!