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Higgins Farm Windmill - Brewster

Higgins Farm Windmill

The Higgins Farm Windmill is readily visible and accessible at Drummer Boy Park, right on Route 6a in Brewster, with excellent and easy parking. This popular and beautiful mill was built 1795 just a short distance away on the Higgins Farm near Ellis Landing Road. At one point, it was moved further from the road to avoid scaring horses in the road with the sounds of the moving wind mill vanes. There are interesting scrimshaw carvings inside the structure that testify to the sea-faring of the original builder of the mill. There are also several construction methods that are reminiscent of those used in ship-building.

The mill was used as a working grist mill until 1900; at that time it began to be used on the Roland Nickerson estate as a golf club clubhouse. (Nickerson's wife eventually donated substantial parts of the estate to the state as Nickerson State Park.) In 1974 the mill was donated by the Nickerson family to the Brewster Historical Society with the understanding that it would be restored and available for all to see. It was moved by truck from Ellis Landing Road to Drummer Boy Park and in 1976, it was restored fully to working condition. The thirty-foot high, eight-sided mill has a rotating cap, with a wagon wheel attached to a tail pole that allows the cap to be rotated so that the vanes can face into the wind. This was a classic design, resulting in a shape that resembles a smock, hence it is called a "smock" mill.

You can see inside the mill in tours given at the mill site. Inside you can see the large wooden wind shaft and bull wheel that moved with the wind. The large wooden teeth on the bull wheel would drive the pinion gear and the vertical drive shaft. The drive shaft in turn connected to the running stone (top stone). Grain was ground in the space between the running stone and the bedstone. The Drummer Boy Park is also home to the Hopkins Blacksmith shop, built in 1867; the shop has a working forge that you may see if the blacksmith is in. There is also the Harris-Black house, a classic one-room Cape house, built in 1795. The Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors; there is also a small playground for children and several picnic tables as well.

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Stony Brook Grist Mill - Brewster

This beautiful grist mill is conveniently located just a short distance from Route 6a in Brewster. During the 1800's, this area was a thriving area of the town, known as Factory Village. A fulling mill, a tannery, a woolen mill, a cotton mill, a cobbler's shop, and more were found here. The grist mill itself was built in 1873 where the original fulling mill had been located. During the summer, on Saturdays, the mill is open to the public from 10-2, and you may be able to buy corn meal if you are there at the right time. There is also a museum on the second story that focuses on life in the area during the 1800's and also native Americans.

Even when the mill is not open, you can visit at any time, and walk along the beautiful trails, streams, and ponds near the mill. This is also a herring run, and a popular place to see herring swimming up the concrete ladders in the spring (March-May), to reach the Lower Mill Pond and then into the Upper Millpond and Walkers Pond that lie further upstream. As you explore the area around the building you will notice that there are several gates that control the water flow from the lower pond. When the sluice gate is opened by the miller, the wooden sluice brings water from Lower Mill Pond located behind the mill to the waterwheel. This is an overshoot sluice, driving the 15 foot waterwheel from above. The waterwheel shaft connects into the lower level of the mill which contains gears and the power shaft to the mill stones just above where the corn can be ground.

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Godfrey Windmill - Chatham

Godfrey Windmill

Located in beautiful Chase Park with its own small parking, the Benjamin Godfrey mill was originally built in 1797 on what is now Stage Harbor Road in Chatham. While there were dozens of mills in Chatham during the 1700's, pumping either salt water into evaporation vats to produce salt, or in grinding grain, by the end of the 1800's, only the Godfrey Mill was still working; this is partly due to the fact that it was built much later than other mills. Parts of the wooden gears had also been replaced by metal ones in 1850. There was less use of the mill in the late 1800's, though, and then in 1907, a huge storm damaged the mill. In 1913, it was restored, only to be damaged again by storms multiple times over the following years. In 1954, the mill was donated to the Town of Chatham and moved to Chase Park. A few years later, the mill was open as a display, and restored in 1977 and again in 1989 and 2012. The mill is now in full working condition, is open for tours during the summer on MWF, early afternoons, and can be viewed grinding corn on special "Grinding Days" in August. The park is a great place for a picnic, and also boasts an inviting labyrinth. The short video below by S. M. Mulgrew shows the operation of the mill.

You can click here to see interior archictectural drawings of the mill by John Brandrick, allowing you to fully see the inner workings. There are three stories to this mill, with the grinding mechanism in the second story, the windshaft, the bull wheel, pinion gear and part of the drive shaft in the third story. The first level is dedicated to corn husking equipment.

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Jonathan Young Windmill - Orleans

Jonathan Young Windmill

Conveniently located right on Route 6a in Orleans, with its own parking area, the Jonathan Young Windmill overlooks beautiful Town Cove. Situated in Cove Park right on the water, the mill is a popular attraction. The mill was originally named Elisha Cook's Mill and then Captain Hunt's Mill. Built in South Orleans in 1720, the mill is one of the oldest mills still in existence. It was used to grind corn and barley. In 1839, it was then moved to where the Governor Prence Motel is now located; a general store was there at the time, owned by the Young family. The mill itself was cooperatively owned by five different owners, three of whom were in the Young family, including Jonathan Young.

Jonathan Young Windmill

The mill was sold to a Hyannis sea captain and then moved to Hyannisport by barge in 1897. It was eventually dismantled and returned in sections to Orleans in the 1980's. In recent years, the mill has been restored to its original condition by the Orleans Historical Society, and is now owned by the Town of Orleans. During the summer, tours are available. There is a small picnic area on the beautiful lawns overlooking the picturesque Cove.

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Other Windmills in the Area

Weller Windmill

Weller Windmill - Chatham

The Weller Windmill, at 162 Shore Road in Chatham, is private property. The photo is from the Chatham Town Assessor's Database which indicates that the mill was constructed in the 1700's. The mill, like many structures along Chatham's coastline, is dangerously close to the eroding shore but seems to be in excellent shape, and being used as a guest house.

Old Mill Point Mill - Harwich

Best viewed from Harbor Way in West Harwich, the Old Mill Point mill is located at the mouth of the Herring River in West Harwich. This is also private property. Never a working mill, it was a reproduction mill originally built in the 1920's by W. H. Doble. While it did have blades intitially, those were removed due to maintenance costs. The mill has been in the Sugden family since the 1950's and is attached to the English-style house that Doble had built.

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