The Adams Grist Mill Museum has a new roof | Community

BELLOWS FALLS, Vt. – The Bellows Falls Historical Society has hired Jancewicz Roofing to build a new roof to put on their museum, the historic Adam’s Grist Mill.

The building, which once stood on the Bellows Falls Canal that powered its turbines, dates from before Horace Adams acquired it in 1871 and was run by his family until milling stopped in 1965. In 1927, water from the canal was diverted to supply the current hydroelectric plant. . The milling machinery was later electrified and the original electric machinery is still part of the current exhibit.

When Adam’s Grist Mill closed, the all-volunteer Bellows Falls Historical Society was formed. They took over the building and ran it as a museum to display parts of their collection ever since.

Cathy Bergmann, current president of the Bellows Falls Historical Society, said there was a 40 or 50 year history of “piecemeal repairs” on the roof.

“The community has been impacted by the demolition of many historic buildings. [For us] it ranged from anger to frustration,” Bergmann said. “But now we are proud to bring to this community the restoration of the oldest continuously operated building in Bellows Falls, if not also Rockingham.”

Frank Hawkins, the building’s current curator and supervisor of the roofing project, echoed Bergmann.

“Happy after all these years watching this building,” he said. “I couldn’t believe how ignored he was.”

After years of trying to raise the funds needed to save the building – including fundraisers such as the one held at the Bellows Falls Opera House a few years ago, which featured underwater films from finds by local diver Annette Spaulding in the nearby Connecticut river, which included a mill of the stones, now on display near Adam’s Grist Mill, and two old safes that the Bellows Falls Historical Society linked with old newspaper articles to flights years ago, as well as an exhibit at the Interstate 91 Visitor Center in Guilford – no effort was raised near what was needed for a new roof.

“We were fit to be tied,” Bergmann said.

Then, the Bellows Falls Historical Society received funding for the restoration of the mill from the Theresa Markowitz Schneider Foundation.

Bergmann said the trust administrator was looking for projects he knew the founder would like to support, and it turned out to be a good fit.

Hawkins said there are other projects to work on, such as drainage and brick repointing, and Bergmann mentioned a handicap ramp that will open up additional funding opportunities. Hawkins, himself a sign painter, painted a new sign for them and worked to improve the display of their exhibits inside.

Adam’s Grist Mill is on Mill Street and enters the south end of Bellows Falls Square next to the building now housing the Flat Iron Café.

Bergmann said she wanted it to be “more visible” to the community.

“A lot of people don’t even know it’s there,” she said.

Despite this, Hawkins said they’ve had a lot of visitors over the past year and he sees a bright future for the building in its role of preserving the community’s history.

Adam’s Grist Mill will reopen for its season after Memorial Day. It is usually open on weekends and tours can be booked by appointment. As always, docents are wanted and welcome to be trained. Information is available on the Bellows Falls Historical Society Facebook page or at bellowsfallshisoricalsociety.org.