Roslyn Grist Mill receives donation from direct descendants of original builder

Roslyn Grist Mill receives donation from direct descendants of original builder
(From left to right) Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman, Roslyn Landmark Society Co-President Howard Kroplick and Town of North Hempstead Supervisor Jennifer DeSena observe the newly placed grist mill at the conclusion of phase one of restoration. (Photo by Karina Kovac)

The Roslyn Grist Mill, a historical landmark of the village, has garnered $6 million in donations from the community, including gifts from direct descendants of the original builder.

The Roslyn Grist Mill, located along Hempstead Harbor, is a Dutch-framed watermill that was built between 1715-1741. It was in operation for more than 150 years and used for industrial purposes, according to the Roslyn Landmark Society.

This mill hosted President George Washington on April 24, 1790, who mentioned the site in his diary. Benjamin D. Hicks, who advocated for forming Nassau County, owned the grist mill at one point.

The restoration project overall will cost approximately $7.7 million, of which $6 million has been raised so far. The funds will go towards restoring the mill’s husk frame, water wheel and sluiceway, as well as opening a public educational center at the location.

Executive Director Jennifer Lister said the direct descendent of John Robinson, the man who originally built the mill, donated $250,000 via an anonymous gift.

Robinson was granted permission to build the mill at the head of the harbor on April 2, 1698. It was conditional that he have the mill operating within two years, according to the Roslyn Landmark Society.

The mill was supposed to open in 1700, but a town committee declared the agreement with Robinson was void due to his own default. However, the Landmark Society said town records then show mention of the mill existing in 1706 and 1709.

Lister said the Landmark Society is “absolutely thrilled” to encounter one of the first descendants of the original mill and is grateful for their generous gift. The Landmark Society stated that maintaining relationships with Roslyn community stakeholders is crucial in preserving the village’s history.

Nassau County Executive Bruce Blakeman said the county has invested approximately $2.5 million in the mill’s restoration.

“And we are very proud of that investment,” Blakeman said at a press event for the mill, “because this is a way to secure a historical site that couldn’t be replaced otherwise. Money can’t buy what you have here.”

The mill has been raising funds for its restoration since 2015. Restoration construction of the mill began in 2018.

The money so far has gone towards funding the first phase of the restoration project, which was completed on July 25 when the original building was lowered onto the newly restored foundation.

With the conclusion of phase one of reconstruction, the grist mill has now entered the second phase, which will focus on the interior of the building and the addition of the water wheel.

“It’s very important to the Roslyn Landmark Society to preserve the history of the village, especially this grist mill, and bringing it back to its original 1900 state,” Lister said.

She said they are looking forward to sharing the history of the mill with the community.

Blakeman challenged the Roslyn Landmark Society to finish major restorations by 2024, which is the 125th anniversary of the founding of Nassau County.

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