Thanks to a generous anonymous donor and corporate community support, the historic Samuel E. Perry Grist Mill, under the ownership of the South Kingstown Land Trust (SKLT), is undergoing critical repairs to the mill building, sluiceway, and weir. The landmark property, situated alongside picturesque Mill Pond, is located on Moonstone Beach Road in the Perryville section of South Kingstown.
Jeff Sweenor of Sweenor Builders is providing labor, staging, and general contracting services to re-shingle the sides and roof and repair and replace the floor of the mill, as well as the repair of a sluice gate. An anonymous donor has contributed to the cost of the materials offered at a discounted rate thanks to Liberty Cedar. The sluiceway, which runs between the pond and the mill, had become overgrown with damaging vegetation which crumbled after fierce storms over the past few years. Jon Zeyl of Landscape Creations is providing materials and labor to complete restoration of the sluiceway and weir. Roland Fiore of South County Sand and Gravel is providing gravel for the weir restoration.
Matt Belke, an employee of Sweenor Builders and resident of South Kingstown, is one of the workers on site and is pleased to be contributing to the project. Growing up locally, jonnycakes were a way of life for Belke. While he always knew about the Mill, it was not until recently that he realized it is still operational and grinds flint corn for the jonnycakes he has always known and loved. Since being on the job he has been amazed at the high amount of interest people have shown in the project, many stopping all the time on their way by to ask about the progress. “It has been an honor to work on the project to keep the Mill active in the community,” says Belke.
For more than 30 years the mill had been in the loving care of Bob and Diane Smith. They gifted the mill and its surrounding 3.3 acres to SKLT in 2012. Protecting this entire complex is an example of whole-place preservation, which is the preservation of the land as well as associated agricultural and cultural elements.
The photos below are just a few that capture the renovation work. Thank you to Ken Woodcock, Omar Fahmy, Robert Blakely, Kevin McCloskey, and others who have helped us photo-document this journey!