After nearly 100 years, the Kingsbury Grist Mill is well on its way to being operational again.
On Tuesday, a new water wheel was installed -- and blessed by Father Leroy Owens of St. Edward the Confessor -- at the mill at Kingsbury Pond on Spring Street (Route 27).
The wheel is 10 feet in diameter and close to its original size, according to research done by the Kingsbury Grist Mill Committee. It is a breastshot wheel where the water hits in the middle and spins the wheel backwards.
"It's been a very busy couple of days," said Dick Judge, a member of the committee he revitalized last year.
In fact, the mill's restoration has been in the works since the 1980s when an original Kingsbury Grist Mill Committee was appointed to address the mill which had fallen into disrepair before being handed over to the town.
Members of that committee had all since resigned -- many had moved out of town and some had died -- before Judge spoke with Mike Cronin, an original committee member.
"He and I looked at the mill, which hadn't been opened for years and years, and he basically got me on the committee and handed the keys over to me," Judge said.
"I'm kind of carrying on Mike's legacy to get this done," Judge said.
The newly-revitalized committee worked with original member Barbara Leighton, who had kept copious notes regarding their work and the history of the property, which helped the new committee find their direction.
Judge credits the original committee for shoring up the structure which made the current committee's job much easier.
Another thing that has made the committee's job easier is the discovery of a fund established decades ago to restore the mill.
Cronin had told Judge about a town account that was funded by money collected from bottles and cans at the transfer station, as well as generous donors. What Cronin thought was $1,500 turned out to be $23,000.
The new committee then contacted wheelwright Spencer Boyd based outside Atlanta, Georgia, to construct the wheel which was delivered on Tuesday.
To date, the project has cost less than $10,000 due to the generous donations of time, money, and services by many community members [who are listed below]. Had it not been for donations, Judge estimates the cost would have been around $60,000.
The future of the mill is as exciting as its history.
"We're bringing it into the 20th century," Judge said, of the structure they think was built in the 1700s. "The wheel will produce electricity for the security lights and will light the American flag that's been unlit for 100 years."
Eventually, the committee hopes to re-open the mill for people to see how milling has progressed through the years. In addition to the new water wheel on the side of the building, there is also a turbine (essentially a water wheel on its side) inside the building which the original committee had repaired.
"We want to show the mill in its different phases," Judge said. "You're actually able to see the transformation of the mill from when it was one small grinding facility to a saw mill."
The original building is post and beam, with wooden pegs and no nails, and has had additions put onto it over the centuries.
"There are additions to part of the building that came from all over town," he said.
When the mill opens to the public, they will be amazed at what they see, said Judge.
"You can't wrap your arms around the timbers that are in that building, they're so huge," he said. "When people finally get in that building, they will be blown away."
Visitors will also see what the mill would have produced using water wheel and turbine technology.
"The turbine that's down underneath is going to turn the stones and that's going to grind the wheat and the barley and the hops and the corn," Judge said. "Those are the things the original settlers ground in that mill."
Local brewers have expressed interest in the hops, a local bakery is interested in the stone ground flour, and NSTAR is interested in any excess electricity.
"The interest has been fantastic, and we want to keep that interest level rolling and pulling people in, whether its labor or material or money, whatever people have the ability to contribute, we're all ears," he said.
A Note of Thanks
The Kingsbury Pond Committee would like to acknowledge for their support of the Clark-Kingsbury Grist Mill renovation project thus far.
- TreeTech of Walpole (Andy Felix)
- Hurley-Testa Construction Co., Inc of Medfield (Tim Hurley and Greg Testa)
- Northern Plumbing and Heating of Medfield (Bob Piersiak)
- Needham Garden Center (Garrett and Marci Graham of Medfield)
- Black Mountain Timberworks of Georgia (owner Spencer Boyd built/ transported and assisted in installing the wheel)
- Jerry Ioannilli
- Walpole Woodworkers
- Fr. Leroy Owens of St. Edward the Confessor Parish Medfield
- Sharon Judge of Century 21 Commonwealth
- Mary Dealy
- Anja Spencer
- Dennis Krawec
- Savannah, Jackie, and Collin Judge
- Michael and Tanya Thompson
- Joe Bethoney Family
- Bobby Famigletti
- Joe and Jill Fredrickson
- Rick Ebbs
- Doug Morrison
- Jim Shannon
- Barbara Cronin
- David Cronin
- Otto and Mary Preikszas
- Medfield Girl Scouts
- Medfield Cub Scouts
- Medfield Boy Scouts
- The citizens of Medfield whose can/bottle donations at the Transfer Station over many years generated enough nickels to fund the project
- Town Administrator Mike Sullivan and his assistant Evelyn Clarke
- Medfield Board of Selectmen
- Medfield Department of Public Works
- Medfield Building Department
- Medfield Historical Commission
- Medfield Historical Society
- Town Historian Richard DeSorgher
- Barbara Leighton and the early Kingsbury Pond Committee of the 1980's-90's whose monumental efforts in reconstruction has preserved and helped protect this important piece of Medfield's agricultural history.
With so many individuals who contributed, the committee apologizes to anyone whose name was missed.