Thanks to generous support from The Champlin Foundations, the Roddy-Holden Foundation, Robert T. Blakely, and the GFWC Women’s Club of South County critical repairs have been made to the turbine assembly and sluiceway of the South Kingstown Land Trust’s historic Samuel E. Perry Grist Mill. The 125-year-old turbine is the main power source for the mill, while the sluiceway which runs between the pond and the mill had been eroded by fierce storms over the past few years.
The quaint little grist mill on Moonstone Beach Road in Perryville is a working mill where native Rhode Island whitecap flint corn is still stone ground by water power. In continuous operation since it was built by Samuel E. Perry in 1703, it’s the only water-powered mill in Rhode Island producing marketable jonnycake meal. Operated by the Perry family, with water from Perry’s Mill Pond to the east, until 1789, it’s been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1990.
For more than 30 years, the mill has been in the loving care of Bob and Diane Smith. They gifted the mill and its surrounding 3.3 acres to SKLT in 2012, and now lease the mill back from SKLT, still training millers, keeping the source of the corn in good shape, and inviting children and families to learn about the history of the mill.
The dam, mill pond, grist mill and the land it sits on have not changed over these many years. 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. SKLT is committed to maintaining the mill so that everyone can experience, if only for a few hours, what it must have been like to live here 300 years ago.
SKLT would like to recognize Jeff Burns and Rob Lyons who has donated a considerable amount of time and material in the fabrication and design of the template for the door frame as well as assisting in the assembly and installation of the turbine. In addition, we have been fortunate to have Paddy Couzens, Carl Sawyer, Kevin McCloskey, Robert Smith, Stu Sherman and Mike Sherry volunteer their time in repairing, reassembly and maintaining the turbine and the associated equipment of the turbine.
The Land Trust would like to thank everyone for their most generous support and we all look forward to celebrating at the grand reopening in the spring 2016.