Please watch the recently completed video featuring the Samuel E. Perry Grist Mill playing in the Digging Deeper section on the homepage. This project has been made possible by a grant from ADDD Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation, a proactive community and philanthropic leader dedicated to meeting the needs of the people of Rhode Island.
In 2012, Bob and Diane Smith gifted the Samuel E. Perry Grist Mill and its surrounding 3.28 acres to the South Kingstown Land Trust. The quaint little grist mill located on Moonstone Beach Road in Perryville was built by Samuel E. Perry in 1703. It is a working mill where Rhode Island whitecap flint corn is stone ground by water power. In continuous operation since it was built, it is the only water powered mill currently operating in Rhode Island producing marketable jonny cake meal. The mill was built on the edge of the pond and operated by the Perry family until 1789. The water supply is from Perry’s Mill Pond lying easterly from the mill. The mill has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990.
For over 30 years the mill has been in the loving care of Robert and Diane Smith of Wakefield, RI, who have continued to invite school children and families to learn about the historic impact of the mill. Bob and Diane have been training millers and keeping the source of the corn in good shape. They continue to grind and sell Rhode Island whitecap flint corn meal, a gluten free food, grown on land protected by the SKLT.
The dam, the mill pond, head race and the tail race have not changed over these many years. Protecting this entire complex has become SKLT’s efforts to support whole place preservation: the land as well as associated agricultural industry. The land trust is committed to maintaining the mill so that schoolchildren throughout Rhode Island, their parents and the community at large can experience, if only for a few hours, what it must have been like to live here 300 years ago. The land trust hosts three to four educational grindings each year for children and adults. Our goal is to preserve this once important facet of South County agriculture.