2007-04-19 / About Town

Corn grinding the old fashioned way in May

The Gilbert Stuart Museum in Saunderstown will hold an Old Mill Day, on Sunday, May 6 from 1 to 4 p.m. to show off the newly refurbished mill.

On Old Mill Day, the Gilbert Stuart Grist Mill, part of which dates back to the 1600s, will, for the first time in 100 years since commercial milling ceased, be grinding RI's famous white-capped flint corn into johnnycake meal. Participants will see the process that includes two, one-ton Narragansett granite grindstones, which are approximately 58- inches in diameter, slowly begin to move again to produce meal.

The Grist Mill at Gilbert Stuart is run by water, and the grinding mechanism has been reconnected to its water-powered source. On Old Mill Day, thanks to the skills of Andy Shrake, a New England preservationist and restorer who refurbishes old mills and windmills, the grindstones will again respond to the power of the water and slowly begin to turn and grind the meal.

In addition to tours of the gristmill, there will also be tours of the birthplace by the museum's junior docents. The Rhode Island Spinners Guild will be in the museum's common room demonstrating for viewers the days when cloth was made at home, and the Woodworkers Guild of Rhode Island will be on hand with their beautiful handmade wooden objects for sale, recalling the day when no one had yet dreamed up plastic.

Other attractions include the museum's nature trail, which will be open and intrepid walkers will be given a list of the birds that Ken Weber, the noted nature writer, has documented on Gilbert Stuart property, A representative of DEM Fish and Wildlife, Christine Dudley, will be manning the fish ladder and explaining the herring's yearly migration to spawn, from the ocean to Carr Pond behind the Museum.

This event will be held-rain or shine. Tickets are $6 for adults, $3 for children and families are $15. For more information call the Museum at 294-3001.

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