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Restoring the Mill at Parks Mill

Posted on by SCNPS Website Team

The Star

Bill Stringer, Parks Mill Preserve Chair

The Superstar of the Parks Mill Spiderlily Preserve is the rare and beautiful rocky shoals spiderlily.  It gets top billing for obvious reasons.

Figure 1. The Superstar!

Historic Mill Building

The old historic mill building deserves attention as well, especially as it is showing its age and needs help to survive into the future.  The Parks Mill Preserve Committee is working on giving it a much-needed face lift.  In 2020, we started working on a plan to restore the Mill building into sustainable condition.

We saw that some of the support beams underneath were showing some serious damage and sagging (see Figure 3).  We became concerned that further neglect would result in unrecoverable damage to the entire structure.  We concluded that a new roof was needed, but that would have to wait until the sagging support beams underneath could be replaced.  Fortunately, we have a few highly motivated retired folks with skills in construction who could take the lead in this work.   SCNPS members Tom Simpson and Bill Quinn have taken the lead in getting this project underway.

Preliminary removal of exterior wall boards uncovered the degree of damage, and the size and number of heavy support beams needed.  Tom’s extensive “I know a guy” list has  enabled us to find a sawmiller who is working with us to find some large sawlogs, and to saw them to the correct dimensions.  And the correct size is big and heavy.  Tom’s experience in working with heavy timbers led him to develop some ways to make moving large heavy timbers a lot easier. So, Tom Simpson and Bill Quinn with occasional help from Bill Stringer, have made significant progress by working a half-day a week on the project.

Note that Tom, Bill, and the author are steadily becoming senior citizens.  We have had to work hard, but even more important, smart.  Thanks to Tom, the smart part comes easy.

Below is a pair of before and after photos to show the scale of things we have accomplished.  We started with the support beams under the mill room floor.  We have purchased some heavy-duty jacks and are using jacking and a technique called cribbing to level and stabilize the floor and wall structure.  When that is done, we remove the old rotten beams, repair any failing stone-and-cement piers, and then we move the new replacement support beams into place.

Figure 3.  Failed original beams.  Note the millstones above.

Figure 4.  (From L to R) A heavy duty jack, cribbing, and new beams in place.

Mind you, this  work was accomplished by two to three men, all in their mid-seventies, and so illustrates how working smart can take you a long way.  Needless to say, we  place a huge priority on safety.  You have probably determined by now that this is an effort to recruit some more, and possibly younger, interested folks into this work, and you’d be right!  So, if you can spare an occasional half day to a day from time to time, and would be interested in helping out with this effort and learning from an expert in working hard and smart (Tom Simpson), forward your name and contact info to Bill Stringer at .  We will be happy to fit you into the work schedule.  We can assure that you will have fun, because one cannot work this hard without it!  And the feeling of deep satisfaction that comes from looking over, at “quitting time”,  what has been accomplished is quite irreplaceable!


The Park Mill Team