After my visit and tour through the mill and around the grounds, from our exceptional tour guide, Richard, I feel rather enlightened and a whole heck of a lot more educated about grist mills and their necessity in centuries gone by.
Located in the Hamlet of Stony Brook, in the Town of Brookhaven, is Long Island's only working grist mill, which is listed on both the National and New York State Register of Historic Places. Planning a full day for me and my girls to investigate Stony Brook, the Grist Mill was one of the highlights of our itinerary.
Just a gorgeous place to be on a sunny day, I strolled about the pond and the adjacent Avalon Park & Preserve, taking photos of this picturesque setting and its waterfowl and wildlife inhabitants that roamed about, awaiting for the opening of the Grist Mill.
No reservations were needed for the mill tour, and we were lucky enough to get a one-on-one private showing of this nearly 300 year old landmark. Our exceptionally knowledgable guide, Richard brought us back in time to the origins of the mill, the historic context in which it served the community and a perspective on life for the early settlers.
People grew their food, harvesting and preparing it themselves. Today, we take for granted the fact that we can go down to the grocery store and buy a loaf of bread, or prepared food.
Grains like corn, wheat, rye and barley, were an important part of their food supply and when they were harvested, they couldn't really do much with them, until they were "milled" into flour. I think that just about underscores the necessity and importance of a grist mill during that time.
Three centuries ago, in order for a town and its people to survive and thrive, there was a necessity for a grist mill and a blacksmith, which, as a result, were generally the wealthiest folks in the town. The miller, for example would get one-tenth of the ground flour as his payment from the farmers and anyone else having their grain milled.
The mill backs up to the Stony Brook, which connects to the Stony River, by which ships would travel in order have their grain ground at the mill. An excellent location in those days for saving traveling time that would otherwise have to be brought by horse and carriage. (Incidentally, it is the Stony Brook from where this hamlet derived its name!).
Well Adam Smith did indeed build the mill in 1699, but, unfortunately, a flood washed it away and required a new one to be built by his son in the current location in 1751. Richard, our tour guide advised us that many of the original beams from the first mill were used and still part of the framing on the current structure. These beams are massive and it is fascinating to behold the hand cut saw marks in the wood.
Stony Brook Grist Mill
100 Harbor Road, Stony Brook, NY 11790
Saturday - Sunday : 12:00pm - 4:30pm