JHS to host Windmill Day on Aug. 7
The Jamestown Historical Society will sponsor Windmill Day on Saturday, Aug. 7, to celebrate Jamestown’s historic windmill and the island’s agrarian heritage.
If the wind is favorable, the cloth sails will be raised on the newly refurbished vanes and the bonnet will be turned so that the sails catch the breeze.
The mill will be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with guides explaining how the windmill mechanism works and what the miller had to do to grind locally grown white flint corn into cornmeal.
Dick Donnelly – South County’s Mr. Jonnycake – will be there with his portable grill preparing Rhode Island jonnycakes for everybody who visits. Windmill cookies and other refreshments will also be available.
Early in the afternoon, Michael Minto of Conanicut Stoneworks will demonstrate stonewall repair as he rebuilds part of the wall between the windmill and Dutra Farm.
Several island farms will also be open during the afternoon of Aug. 7, and information about the farms will be available at the windmill.
The Jamestown gristmill was built in 1787 on land confiscated from Colonel Joseph Wanton, a Tory who fled when the British evacuated Newport and Jamestown in 1779. The mill operated for 109 years. In 1896, the Jamestown miller closed the mill. Eight years later, a group interested in preserving the town’s history bought the derelict building and repaired it.
The Jamestown Historical Society now owns the mill and maintains the structure and machinery much as they were when the mill was abandoned at the end of the nineteenth century.