The Judah Baker windmill is located at beautiful Windmill Beach, along the shore of Bass River in Yarmouth. Like many mills, it was moved many times as owners changed over the years. In 1791, the mill was built by Judah Baker at the end of Pinefield Lane on Grand Cove in South Dennis. Later it was moved to Ferry Street in West Dennis, near Kelly's Pond, in the area just north of West Dennis Beach. In 1866, it was moved across the river to Yarmouth, to the Bass River area in South Yarmouth where it ground grain until 1891. After heavy storm damage to the mill by a storm in 1916, a final move brought the mill a short distance further south to its current location on River Street.
Since 1953, the Mill has been owned by the Town of Yarmouth. Renovations in 1973, 1999 and 2003 and continuing repairs have brought the mill to its current beautiful condition.
During the summer, tours are provided by the Yarmouth Historical Commission. While the mill is not actually operated, you can see all the milling equipment outside and inside, including the vanes, the tail pole with its wooden wheel (used to rotate the cap to face the vanes into the wind), the wind shaft, bull wheel, pinion gear, drive shaft, and the two mill stones between which the grain was ground.
Baxter Grist Mill is located right on the north side of busy Route 28 in West Yarmouth. Originally built in 1710 by John and Shubel Baxter to grind corn, the mill had a water wheel at that time. In 1860, the mill was rebuilt and the wheel was replaced with a turbine beneath the mill to provide power. The mill ground grain, corn, rye, and barley, until about 1900. Restoration efforts restored the mill in 1961 and 1989. The mill was donated to the Town of Yarmouth in 1961.
The herring run here allows alweives and blueback herring to swim each spring from Nantucket sound up into Mill Pond; the herring ladder itself is just to the right of the mill building. This also serves as the overflow from the pond. The main flow of water to power the turbine, though, is beneath the building with the water running from the north to the south side of the building.
Unfortunately, the mill has not been open to the public, or in working condition for more than 10 years, but you can stop and see the exterior of the property. However, studies are currently underway to improve public access as well as to reduce erosion and to improve the strength of the dam itself and the water flow for both the fish ladder and the mill.
This reproduction windmill located in a beautiful setting at the mouth of Swan Pond River can best be viewed from the Town Landing just off Baker Way in West Dennis, an easy walk from the parking for South Village Beach which is itself on South Village Beach Road. The mill is in a picture perfect setting, looking over the water and sands at the mouth of the river. Built in 1973 as part of the larger waterfront home that has been renovated several times since then, the mill is in excellent condition, with intact vanes and tail pole. This mill is private property, though, so it cannot be visited directly, but is well worth viewing from across the river.
The Holbrook Tower, easily visible right on Hyannis Avenue in Hyannisport, has often been mistaken for a windmill. I have included it here because of the interest people have in it, but it is not a wind mill or a grist mill. It was a water tower! It was designed to provide water to Hyannisport homes from an artesian well. Positioned right on the water's edge at what was originally called East Beach, now called Eugenia Fortes Beach, the tower is visible from the ferries going to Nantucket from Hyannis, or right from Hyannis Avenue itself. It is such an attraction to the eye that it was actually used by some ships as a navigation landmark, so it was sometimes called the Landmark Tower.
The tower was built, along with a home just to the east, in 1905 by Springfield resident George Holbrook, president of the American Paper Company. The home itself burned down just five years later, to be replaced by the cement nine-bedroom home now there. For more than 20 years, Sam Barber, an impressionist painter, owned the home and tower, using the tower itself as his summer art studio. The tower is an iconic fixture that stands overlooking some of the most beautiful scenery on the Cape and while it appears to be an old windmill, it never was.
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