Above: Rebuilt southwest corner pier.
Effort to Save Woodstock’s Historic Chamberlin Mill clears Hurdle
(excerpted from 10-24-13 Press Release)
The Internal Revenue Service has recently granted tax exempt (501c3) status to Chamberlin Mill, Inc. This non-profit organization was established in 2012 by citizens interested in saving a rare historic sawmill on the Still River in Woodstock as a cultural asset for the region. Tax exemption is seen as a critical step in the on-going preservation effort.
According to Chamberlin Mill board member, Lyn Smith, “The tax exempt non-profit status is crucial to fund-raising efforts that will stabilize this important cultural resource. The mill will serve as an educational opportunity across a wide range of interests, including industrial and New England history, post and beam construction, and the environment.”
Jean McClellan, President of Chamberlin Mill, Inc., adds, “We are very lucky to have found our way through the tax exemption approval process. Incorporation, a year ago, was the easy part. Then we waited ten months for the IRS to take a look at our application. In the end, review of our application was expedited with the support of Rep. Joe Courtney's office. Once on the fast track, approval was swift. If it had not been expedited, we could have expected many more months of waiting. We are extremely grateful to Rep. Courtney's office, and eager to move forward with next steps for saving the mill.”
Congressman Joe Courtney
visits Chamberlin Mill
Photo l. to r. Gene Tewksbury, Field Representative for
Congressman Courtney, Ayla Kardestuncer, Gail White,
Andy Quigley, Jean McClellan, Congressman Joe Courtney,
Evelyn Cole Smith
On Wednesday, November 6, 2013 CT 2nd District Congressman Joe Courtney and his Field Representative, Gene Tewksbury, toured Chamberlin Mill with members of the Chamberlin Mill, Inc. Board and Gail White, President of the Woodstock Historical Society. This was the Congressman's first visit to the mill, in whose progress (as described above) he has had a significant hand this year
Yes, the Mill survived the winter. Record snowfall in Woodstock
made all pay particular attention to roofs. On February 21, Andy
Quigley, George French, and Nate Rosebrooks raked about two feet
of snow from the Mill's roof, ensuring its safe passage into spring.
The Mill owes them great thanks!
Mill's 1928 Studebaker engine restoration coming to completion. This winter an amazingly ingenious, resolute and generous team of Mystic Seaport engine restoration volunteers has brought a rusting hulk back to life. To follow this work, and to find pictures go to "The Mill/The Studebaker Story." It is quite a story!
Chamberlin Mill, Inc. is poised to begin first phase of restoration. With plans and specifications complete for the Mill's restoration, bids will go out this spring for repair of the dry laid stone foundation. This first phase of restoration has been generously funded by the Summer Hill Foundation.
Eversource Energy grants funds to Chamberlin Mill (excerpted from March 12, 2015 press release)
In a recent informal ceremony at Woodstock Town Hall, Shawn Johnston, Community Relations Specialist for Eversource Energy awarded a grant to the non-profit Chamberlin Mill, Inc., toward its effort to revitalize the historic sawmill as an educational and cultural resource for the region. Allan Walker, Woodstock First Selectman, a supporter of Chamberlin Mill’s grant application, also participated in the ceremony.
“We’re proud to support the restoration of Chamberlin Mill, a key piece of Connecticut’s history,” said Bill Herdegen, President of Eversource's Connecticut Electric Operations. “Revitalizing one of New England’s only historic sawmills ensures this important agricultural resource will be around for years to come as an educational tool for our communities and customers.”
“I was thrilled to be part of bringing Eversource and Chamberlin Mill, Inc. together to move this project forward,” First Selectman Walker stated. The fine work being done to restore Chamberlin Mill is not only an important community endeavor, but a meaningful enhancement to the Last Green Valley. Being able to support historic and cultural resources in the local area is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job as First Selectman. Work that creates educational and recreational activities for all citizens to enjoy strengthens our community.”
“We are very grateful to Eversource for this grant, the community support it represents, and the work it will enable us to do,” remarked Jean McClellan, President of Chamberlin Mill, Inc. “To date, we have been lucky in the support we have received from individual donors and from funding agencies. The grant from Eversource represents a significant addition to our current effort to engage area corporations and businesses in our work. With support of this kind, we are confident we will succeed in restoring this rare sawmill as a resource for future generations to enjoy.”
Eversource Energy’s Community Relations Specialist, Shawn Johnston, presents a check
to Chamberlin Mill, Inc., represented by board members Evelyn Cole Smith, Ayla Kardestuncer
and Jean McClellan in the office of Allan Walker, Woodstock First Selectman.
L. to rt. Smith, McClellan, Kardestuncer, Johnston, and Walker.
There is a great deal of good news to report!
ANOTHER GRANT! Thanks to the Society for Industrial Archeology and CME Associates, Chamberlin Mill, Inc. will be able to complete plans and specifications this summer for structural rehabilitation of the mill.
In a highly competitive national grant climate, Chamberlin Mill, Inc. is particularly grateful to receive funding from the Society for Industrial Archeology. It is equally appreciative of very generous matching funds provided by CME Associates, Inc. of Woodstock, CT. CME earlier participated in funding the Mill's feasibility study, and has supported the effort to preserve the mill since its inception.
Evelyn Cole Smith, Principal Architect with CME, will complete the construction documents. Smith is a certified preservation architect with a strong restoration track record. We are very lucky to have her aboard for this project.
MILL ROOF PATCHED. Funds donated by Friends of Chamberlin Mill
allowed us to hire Leo Morissette to patch a few emerging roof leaks
this spring, and to caulk other areas that seemed a bit dodgy. Thank
you to the Friends who contributed to this small but necessary interim
stabilization project. The metal roofing, dating probably to the 1960s,
has been a prime factor in assuring the Mill's structural condition into
the 21st century. But, it is reaching the end of its useful life. Our plan
is to try to limp by with patching until the structure is permanently
stabilized, a process best accomplished from the foundation upward.
LOGS CLEARED. Volunteers have begun clearing logs remaining from
trees felled to allow sunlight to reach the Mill's western wall. Thanks
Barbara Bocchino, Ed Bezanson, Andy Quigley, Jean McClellan, and
George, Clifford and William French.
FUNDS ARE GROWING TOWARD MILL REHABILITATION. As we continue to build a base of funding from Friends of Chamberlin Mill and others, research is well underway for sources of matching grants that will support foundation repair, the first step toward the Mill's long-term rehabilitation. Thanks to all who have contributed to this effort!
LANE#1 SAW PARTS DONATED. Jim and Paul Tumel have donated a trove of Lane #1 saw parts to Chamberlin Mill, Inc. With the assistance of Peter Olshewski and Andy Quigley, these parts are now in storage, and are being inventoried. Many thanks to all. When the inventory is complete, we will know what remaining parts we will need for restoration of the Mill's 1873 Lane #1 circular saw. With the important Tumel donation, we are well on our way to being able to resurrect the old saw.
STUDEBAKER ENGINE. Exciting developments are underway
for the 1928 Studebaker President engine that was critical in
keeping the Mill operational into the 1960s after destruction of the
dam in the Great Flood of 1936. The engine, which remained on site
until the Mill was cleared out preparatory to a 2010 conditions
assessment, has been in storage since. This spring, thanks to the
efforts of volunteer Nate Rosebrooks and board member, Andy
Quigley, the engine has been removed from its chassis section, and
prepared for transport to Mystic Seaport, where Nate and other
Seaport engine repair volunteers will work on its restoration.
Meanwhile, volunteer Frank Olah has established a very special Studebaker
family connection for the Mill, which has already led to knowledge about
blueprint location and potential sources of parts. Many thanks, Frank.
For more information about the Studebaker story, check out "The Mill" tab.
Above, l. to r. Jock McClellan, Frank Olah, NateRosebrooks, and Andy Quigley move the engine into summer storage.
Chamberlin Mill, Inc. acquires mill site from
The Nature Conservancy
Judy Walberg, Woodstock Town Clerk, records the deed transferring ownership
of Chamberlin Mill from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) to Chamberlin Mill, Inc.
Left to right: Walberg; Richard Roberts, Jean McClellan and Anthony Reed,
representing Chamberlin Mill; and Sarah Pellegrino, representing TNC.
The March 27, 2014 property transfer represents the culmination of several years of effort by The Nature Conservancy, owner of the property since 2008, and Chamberlin Mill, Inc., the Woodstock Historical Society, Woodstock Historic Properties Commission, and over fifty other agencies and individuals to find a way to save this rare 19th century sawmill for the benefit of the region.
The 0.14 acre mill site is located at the northeast corner of The Nature Conservancy’s 98-acre Still River Preserve. The Preserve protects the headwaters of the Still River, a tributary of the important Natchaug, Shetucket, and Thames River watershed. While The Nature Conservancy does not itself engage in restoring historic structures, it recognized the significance of Chamberlin Mill, and its potential benefits to the public. Holly Drinkuth of the Conservancy worked diligently to gain local support for the mill.
“I’m so grateful for the tireless dedication of the Mill’s many devoted volunteers for their commitment to the historic integrity of Woodstock. Their vision for the Chamberlin Mill has carried this project through to completion. I’m delighted the character and agricultural tradition of Old Turnpike Road will remain the cornerstone of the Conservancy’s Still River Preserve!” said Drinkuth, Director of Outreach and Watershed Programs for The Nature Conservancy.
For Chamberlin Mill Inc., the property transfer is an exciting moment, making it possible to move forward with plans to stabilize and rehabilitate the mill for the enjoyment of future generations.
Pomfret's January Seniors Luncheon provided a wonderfully informal and receptive setting for Andy Quigley and Jean McClellan to share a powerPoint presentation on Chamberlin Mill's history and preservation efforts.
Our new website was launched through the generosity of New England Plasma and its Accounting and Human Resources Manager, Michelle Salvas. Michelle guided us through the process of establishing a web presence with ease and good humor. Many thanks for this invaluable expertise and support.
Far left: Early grist mill stone, original to the Chamberlin site.
Left: Woodstock Education Foundation 2015 pewter holiday ornament honoring Chamberlin Mill.
Below: Still River, at Chamberlin Mill, with lower millpond beyond large culverts built following flooding in 1936. The Old Turnpike roadbed crosses over the culverts.
Left: Andy Quigley, board member, and Bill Foskett, mason, discuss foundation work at the Mill. Above: Old tail race stones lead to rebuilt corner pier and west wall.
June has been a red letter month for Chamberlin Mill...
First phase of building restoration is underway. Masons from Old World Stoneworks have already rebuilt the Mill's dry laid, southwest corner pier, and will soon rebuild sections of the west and center walls. While most of the Mill's foundation is considered to be in good condition, several areas were singled out by structural engineers as in need of repair. For the past few years, temporary wooden cribbing has been in place to ensure the building's stability. By summer's end, the cribbing should be gone, replaced by sturdily reset stone. Funding for this repair came from a Summer Hill Foundation grant. Great thanks to CME Associates' architect, Lyn Smith, for guiding the bidding process for these repairs, and also to the Mill's building committee, chaired by Myron Stachiw, who with other members George French, Jean McClellan, Leo Morissette, Andy Quigley, and Tony Reed, reviewed bids, checked references, and approved the final selection of replacement stone.
A second significant grant from Summer Hill Foundation received this month will put Chamberlin Mill, Inc. well on its way to completing the second phase of restoration, timber framing repair. The Summer Hill grant will be combined with funds raised by Friends of Chamberlin Mill and other sources for phase two work, expected to begin in early 2016.
Studebaker engine hums again. Repairs are almost complete, and the engine sounds wonderful. Huge thanks to Nate Rosebrooks and the crew of volunteers from Mystic Seaport.
Myron Stachiw, whose expertise as historian and anthropologist has contributed to important historic sites nationally and internationally, volunteered to dig into early Woodstock documents to expand the understanding of Chamberlin Mill's history. His efforts, shared with greatly appreciative mill supporters in June, have significantly increased our knowledge of the site's early history.
With rebuilt west and center walls, the Mill's foundation
stands strong again.
It has been wonderful to see the progress on timber frame restoration at Chamberlin Mill this season. Sills, joists, posts, flooring, and siding have been meticulously repaired or replaced where needed, and the building now stands straight and proud again, thanks to the skill of Peter Hamm and Historic Preservation Associates. Before winter, we hope to have a new roof as well. We are very grateful to Summer Hill Foundation, and many donors for making this possible.
Thanks to Andy Quigley, a Chamberlin Mill, Inc. board member, all missing parts of the Mill's Lane # 1 saw have been located, and are ready for assembly when the building is ready to receive them.
As soon as March snows disappear, timber frame restoration will begin at Chamberlin Mill. Work on sills, posts, and other timber frame elements will proceed through the spring and summer months, to be finished in time to allow the structure to be reroofed before snow flies again.
Historic Preservation Associates of Wales, Massachusetts will undertake the timberframe repairs. Peter Hamm, its principal, is a Woodstock native and is happy to be returning to his hometown for this project. Currently at work on the Emily Dickinson House in Amherst, Mass., Hamm has earned the respect of preservationist for projects throught southern New England.
Locally harvested native white oak will be used for the timber frame restoration. This naturally durable hardwood has been provided at a discount by Pomfret's Hull Forest Products in a spirt of sisterhood for the old sawmill.
Donations from Friends of Chamberlin Mill as well as generous grants from Summer Hill Foundation make this work possible. Thanks to all, including Hometown Bank, our newest business donor.
The Mill's 1928 Studebaker engine hit the road again. This fall it was fired up for three events--a first-time appearance at Celebrating Agriculture and return showings at the Mystic Seaport Antique Vehicle Show and Walktober. The remarkable engine continues to purr, thanks to the attentive care of Nate Rosebrooks.
For its debut at Celebrating Agriculture, the engine was included with other old farm vehicles outside the Woodstock Agricultural Society's Brunn Barn Museum, attended by Nate Rosebrooks. Meanwhile, other volunteers manned an information table in the Sheep Barn, an excellent opportunity to make new friends for the Mill, and to gather knowledge of local mill history. This free event is a delight for a family. To mark it on your calendar for next year, see http://www.celebratingagriculture.org/.
This October, Walktober participants were treated to a glimpse of the Mill's old gears and saw carriage following their walk through the once-active neighborhood surrounding the site. Thanks for this to George French and Andy Quigley, who continue to keep a watchful eye on the site, and to other volunteers, old and new, who make this event possible. Since 2011 residents and visitors to the area have enjoyed October walks at the Mill, as part of the Last Green Valley's Walktober program, which has now increased to over 200 walks and events in our National Heritage Corridor.
A grand day was had by all who accompanied the Studebaker engine to the Mystic Seaport Antique Vehicle Show.Limited to vehicles predating 1930, this is quite a show. (https://www.mysticseaport.org/event/by-land-and-by-sea-antique-vehicle-show/).
In December, Myron Stachiw completed his archaeological report for earlier-described excavations on the Mill's east side. Mill volunteers had an opportunity to learn from a pro about cleaning and cataloging cultural material, mostly from the 20th century. Thanks, Myron.
After a winter of planning, activity has resumed at Chamberlin Mill. On May 9, directed by Brian Jones, State Archaeologist, and fellow archaeologist, Myron Stachiw, subsurface investigation began on the east side of the Mill, prior to drainage work contemplated for later in the season. Kit Sears and Nate Rosebrooks supplied equipment to dig two test trenches, and Friends of the State Archaeologist and Chamberlin Mill volunteers pitched in. Beyond the test trenches, the team also began exploring the Studebaker engine area. Several subsequent forays have continued this work. Thanks to Friends of the State Archaeologist, Sally and Scott, and Chamberlin volunteers, Andy, Ayla, Barbara, Charlie, Dan, Jean, Kit, Nate, and Tony for their work, and to Brian and Myron for their expertise and patience.
Nate Rosebrooks continues to work on the cut-down 1928 Studebaker that provided power for the sawmill in its last years of operation. The radiator is now in place, and cowling, substantially stabilized. Thanks for your ingenuity and persistence, Nate!
Woodstock Elementary School's third graders launched their study of local history this spring with a presentation on Chamberlin Mill. Andy Quigley and Jean McClellan shared photos, a video, and a working model of an undershot water wheel crafted by Andy. The duo have been invited to return next year, and look forward to having classes visit the Mill once restoration is complete.
Timber framing restoration is ready to go. A contract has been signed with Peter Hamm, owner of Historic Preservation Associates to proceed with timber framing repairs in 2017. Our goal is to have timber framing restored in time for roof replacement prior to snowfall in 2017, keeping us to our anticipated schedule. Thanks to all of our generous supporters, and especially to our major grant source, Summer Hill Foundation, for making this possible. We are well on our way to realizing our goal of keeping Chamberlin Mill and its history alive.
A significant grant was received from the Summer Hill Foundation for restoration of the Mill's dry-laid field stone foundation. Chamberlin Mill, Inc. is greatly appreciative of Summer Hill's generosity, which will allow it to complete the first phase of its long-term structural rehabilitation plan.
1928 Studebaker engine restoration makes amazing progress through expert efforts of Mystic Seaport volunteers. This quite remarkable story can be followed under the header, "The Mill/The Studebaker Story."
Over a hundred visitors participated in fall events at the Mill, including a
neighborhood walk, as part of The Last Green Valley's series of Walktober events,
and a skilled oxen demonstration by the Hebert family of East Woodstock.
The Heberts brought two pairs of well-trained oxen and a logging sled to the mill,
showing visitors how oxen were used to haul lumber, and how logging sleds were
loaded and unloaded. Many thanks to the Hebert family for supporting the Mill
in this way.
It's hard to know where to begin! The Mill's 1928 Studebaker engine returned to life, with demonstrations for volunteers and donors, antique car enthusiasts, and Walktober participants. Hurrah for the Mystic Seaport volunteers who completed the miraculous transformation of the engine which had been rusting, exposed to the elements for about four decades. And immense thanks specifically to Nate, Scott, Bob, Jim, Jack, Carl, Andy, the Studebaker National Foundation, and others who participated, supported, and generally cheered on the engine's return to operational condition. It was great fun to share the engine at the Mystic Seaport Antique Vehicle Show in September, and to welcome the Mystic Seaport Antique Vehicle Tour to the Mill.
Right: Nate Rosebrooks, lead volunteer for the Studebaker
engine project, fires up the Straight-Eight at an early
September celebration for donors and volunteers.
Andy Quigley, our detective-researcher-sawmill authority extraordinaire, tracked down a grist mill stone original to the Chamberlin site, which had passed through several hands since it left the Chamberlin family in the 1990s. Its new and very generous owner, Tom Campbell of Old Wood Workshop in Pomfret, CT, has donated the 54" diameter mill stone to our effort. It will give us a good vehicle for telling about the early history of the site. The newly formed interpretation group is busy thinking ahead to the day when the grist mill stone will be part of public exhibition space at the Mill.
TheWoodstock Education Foundation decided to shine a spotlight on the Mill this year, making it the subject of the Foundation's 2015 holiday pewter ornament. Part of a series depicting Woodstock landmarks, the Chamberlin ornament will support the work of the non-profit Woodstock Educational Foundation. Ornaments in the series are available from the Woodstock Education Foundation (firstname.lastname@example.org) at $12 apiece.
Thanks to Rich Roberts, you can now find Chamberlin Mill on Facebook (www.facebook.com/chamberlinmill). Also, the Mill has been included in the recently organized Connecticut Industrial Trail List (http://www.slideshare.net/Billhosley/connecticut-industrial-trail-list-and-site-profiles-by-william-hosley).
And of course our work would be nowhere without funding. We thank the Putnam Rotary Club and Charter Oak Bank, which have joined our growing list of local business supporters. We also thank the dedicated Friends of Chamberlin Mill who have generously responded to our end-of-year appeal. And we are are grateful beyond measure for the continuing support of Summer Hill Foundation. Together these supporters have put us in a good position to undertake timber-framing restoration in 2016.
New security fencing was completed on the lower level of the mill, thanks to the volunteer efforts of Andy Quigley and George French. Andy donated the lumber, cut on his own 19th century Lane#1 circular saw.
Yale University School of Forestry and Environmental Studies students came to the mill in July as part of their summer program at the Yale Forest. It was a great pleasure to have them visit. George French, whose grandfather lived and worked in the Yale Forest, led the tour, supported by Jean McClellan and Andy Quigley.
Left: Mystic Seaport Antique Vehicle Tour arrives at Chamberlin Mill, September 25. ,
Friends of the State Archaeologist (FOSA) volunteers, under the direction of Nicholas Bellantoni, retiring CT State Archaeologist, conducted an archaeological reconnaissance study at the mill on August 13 and 14. Results of their study are anticipated to be ready in fall, 2014. Huge thanks to Jim Trocchi and his FOSA group, Nicholas Bellantoni and incoming State Archaeologist Brian Jones for their participation in this work.