The city introduced onlookers to a newly restored flume at the in a Saturday ceremony, sending water down the 200-foot chute to activate the structure’s water wheel.
completed the project, which is part of an ongoing restoration effort at the site. Rick Gipstein, an architect who volunteers with the mill effort, said the mill has also had its foundation restored, siding and windows replaced, and water wheel rebuilt.
The reproduction grist mill stands on the same site as a mill built by Gov. John Winthrop Jr., New London’s founder, in 1650. The original mill was destroyed when a British raid under General Benedict Arnold burned New London in 1781. The flume directs water from Mill Brook to work the wheel.
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“We’ve worked on this mill for over 15 years, and it gives us great satisfaction to see you hear to see the wheel turn,” said Barbara Dixon, neighborhood coordinator with the .
Mayor Daryl Finizio said a study by the Yale Urban Design Workshop determined that more people visit the Freedom Trail, a historic walking tour in Boston, than Disneyland each year. Finizio said restoration of the mill provides educational opportunities for New London residents and help improve the city’s economy by offering a historic tourist attraction.
“The Old Town Mill here in New London is one of our hidden gems,” he said.
Descendants of Winthrop hit the switch to start the flow of water. Once turning, the wheel severed three streamers attached to it for a unique ribbon cutting ceremony.
Gipstein said the original water wheel was controlled from inside the structure by the miller, and further restoration efforts aim to replicate this setup.