The Grist Mill during spring cleaning.

In 1966, in response to the fear that a treasured landmark in Mansfield would deteriorate, members of the Mansfield Historical Society and the Conservation Commission gathered together friends and neighbors and formed a non-profit corporation – Joshua’s Trust – so that they could work together to safeguard the Gurleyville Grist Mill (as well as other properties in the 10-town area).

It took over ten years, but they were successful, and able to begin a much-needed restoration of the mill. Because of their dedication and work, the Grist Mill, as well as the village of Gurleyville, became registered historic sites at both the state and national level.

Located on the Fenton River, the mill offers a unique opportunity to observe rural 19th century gristmill technology. It contains a complete system of preserved milling equipment as it was operated over many decades and to the middle of this century.

A sawmill was built on this site in 1723 and the gristmill added about 1750. The latter was replaced in the 1830s by the present mill that continued to operate until 1941. An attached sawmill was destroyed by heavy snow in the early 1950s and the dam was washed out in the winter of 1958-59. It had served for 200 years, repaired and maintained but never modernized. The gristmill itself, constructed of stone, remains in a remarkable state of preservation.

Now, some 50 years later, the mill once again needs more than just upkeep.

Recently, an engineering firm was hired to determine what renovations and restoration will be needed to properly maintain the mill as a true historic property for the long term. This initial evaluation will cost $11,000.

Unfortunately, the Grist Mill fund, begun by the Cazel and Atwood families, does not have sufficient funds to cover the anticipated expenses. So the Trust is reaching out to our members and others for help.

To get us started with a song – the local a cappella group, Take Note!, will give a concert on Sunday, March 4, at 3 p.m., at Knowlton Memorial Hall in Ashford. We hope you will join us for this important kick-off event!

If you have never been to this a cappella group’s concert – treat yourself!  Composed of about 20 singers from all around the region, the group’s repertoire is quite eclectic. Even more remarkable, they only give concerts for non-profit groups, stating that “singing is our gift, which we contribute to support the charitable efforts of community organizations.”

Thus, they do not charge for their performances, but attendees are encouraged to give a free-wheeling donation to the sponsoring organization — in this case, the Trust.

And, as the work on the Grist Mill proceeds, we will keep you up-dated via this web site and the newsletter. We look forward to a grand celebration once all is completed!

If you have an interest in supporting this important effort, contributions will be most welcome. View the options here or they can be sent to the Joshua’s Trust office and please note that you are supporting the Gristmill engineering analysis.

Take Note!, an a capella group made up of singers from around the area, supports various charitable causes through its performances.