Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation

Press Release

January 24, 2020

Dan Keefe | Brian Nearing (518) 486-1868 | news@parks.ny.gov

New York State, Roslyn Landmark Society Announce Raising of the Historic 1700s Grist Mill Above Street Level

New York State Regional Economic Development Council Awarded the Roslyn Landmark Society $1.5 Million to Restore 300-year-old landmark

Restored Structure Will Preserve a Historic Natural Asset to Be Used as an Educational and Historical Informational Center

The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Roslyn Landmark Society today announced the successful raising of the historic Roslyn Grist Mill to allow a new foundation to be poured, completing a major step forward to restore the building and provide historic educational and exhibit opportunities for the public. New York State's Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) has awarded the Roslyn Landmark Society $1.5 million in grants administered by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation for the ongoing stabilization and restoration of the 300-year-old landmark. An enthusiastic crowd witnessed the lifting of the Roslyn Grist Mill on Thursday, marking a significant moment in Roslyn Landmark Society's restoration of the historic 1700's mill which began in November 2018.

Teams of preservation specialists successfully raised the building four feet above street level while workers quickly added sections of timber cribbing columns to support the structure. The new, expanded headroom created by the lift will allow workers to safely excavate the existing foundation and begin construction on a new water-tight foundation later this year. Timber frame specialists had already begun to remove and restore deteriorated columns and support beams.

"Long Island's cultural institutions are critical contributors to the region's high quality of life and economic development potential," said Erik Kulleseid, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "Investing in the revitalization of the Roslyn Grist Mill capitalizes on Roslyn's history and culture while enhancing the surrounding neighborhood. I'm grateful Governor Cuomo is helping to provide the tools to revitalize this one-of-a-kind landmark on Long Island."

Kevin Law, Long Island Regional Economic Development Council Co-Chair and Long Island Association President, said, "Long Island's agricultural and industrial heritage stretches from this 18th-century mill to our 21st-century innovation corridor — and the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council is proud to support projects that celebrate this strong history. With this critical milestone complete, I am confident that Roslyn's Grist Mill will soon become an educational beacon on Long Island, teaching locals and visitors alike about our region's unique story."

Stuart Rabinowitz, LIREDC Co-Chair and President of Hofstra University, said, "For more than three centuries, Long Island has been a center for farming and fishing — and this project will ensure that history continues to live on. The Roslyn Grist Mill is one of the oldest buildings on Long Island, and I am proud to support its restoration and conversion into an educational center, which will boost tourism and guarantee our region's economic history continues to be told."

Howard Kroplick, President of Roslyn Landmark Society, welcomed assembled civic leaders and preservationists including Congressman Tom Suozzi (New York 3rd district), Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, Judi Bosworth (Town Supervisor, Town of North Hempstead) Wayne Wink (Town Clerk, Town of North Hempstead), Town Councilpersons Veronica Lurvey and Peter Zuckerman, Charles Berman (Town Receiver of Taxes), Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (Legislator, Nassau County), Diane Margaritas (representing Village of Roslyn Mayor John Durkin) and Alexandra Wolfe (Executive Director, Preservation Long Island).

Representatives from significant financial support groups of the Roslyn Grist Mill project were also in attendance including Brian Schneider (Deputy County Executive, Nassau County), Eileen Krieb (Parks Commissioner), Delia Brian Foley (Deputy Regional Director, Long Island State Parks Region) and Betsy Golan (representing New York State Senator Anna Kaplan).

Kroplick, commenting on the momentous occasion, said "this was a significant day in the history of the Roslyn Grist Mill which dates back over 300 years. Today's achievement would not have been accomplished without the efforts and support of Nassau County, the owner of the mill, the New York State Regional Economic Development Councils, New York and Long Island State Parks, Village of Roslyn, Gerry Charitable Trust, Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation and the Roslyn Landmark Society's trustees, sponsors, members and our Director Jennifer Lister. We applaud and thank these individuals, organizations and our amazing planning, design and construction teams."

Roslyn Landmark Society Director Jennifer Lister added "the vision for the mill restoration started many years ago and its' now become a reality. We're grateful to our esteemed financial supporters, the incredible team of professionals doing the work and the local and state officials dedicated to restoring this 18th century architectural treasure.

"Downtown Roslyn is such a unique destination thanks to decades of good work by the Roslyn Landmark Society, New York State, Nassau County, Village of Roslyn, Gerry Charitable Trust, Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation and so many others. I have long been a proponent of the restoration of the Roslyn Grist Mill and this step forward is a major step in a long journey to resurrect one of Long Island's oldest buildings, said Congressman Tom Suozzi. "Congratulations to the Roslyn Landmark Society and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on this monumental step forward to preserve this 300-year-old local treasure."

"The historic Roslyn Grist Mill has been in the heart of this village for the past three centuries and I'm proud to see the restoration of this treasured landmark finally move forward. I thank the Roslyn Landmark Society and all the local officials for their tireless advocacy that helped push this effort towards the finish line. Once completed it will serve as a great way to honor the past and encourage future generations to appreciate the history of our communities," said Nassau County Executive Laura Curran.

"The continued dedication to the Roslyn Grist Mill demonstrates the enormous passion our residents have for their local history," said Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth. "The raising of the historic Roslyn Grist Mill will bring the building to street level and further assist with restoration efforts. I commend the Roslyn Landmark Society and all the major sponsors for ensuring this wonderful piece of history remains intact."

"When it was first built hundreds of years ago, Roslyn's grist mill served as the heart of a bustling economic hub powered by agriculture, shipping and trade. Today, this historic structure - preserved through the tireless advocacy of the Roslyn Landmark Society - serves as an irreplaceable link to our community's past," Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton (D – Glen Cove) said. "I am grateful that the collaborative efforts of so many stakeholders will afford us the privilege of preserving this historic treasure for the next generation of Roslyn residents."

"Preservation Long Island has long been an advocate for the Roslyn Grist Mill's preservation. Added to our List of Endangered Historic Places in 2015, we first reported on the building's historic value and its compromised condition in 2001. It is most exciting to finally see progress and we applaud Howard Kroplick and the Roslyn Landmarks Society for restoring dignity to an important piece of Long Island history," said Executive Director Alexandra Wolfe.

The Roslyn Grist Mill is one of the few surviving examples of Dutch wood-framed industrial architecture in the United States. Built between 1715 and 1741, the water-powered mill operated for over 150 years providing the local farmers with ground meal or flour from their grain.

President George Washington visited Roslyn on his historic 1790 tour of Long Island and met with businessman and mill owner, Hendrik Onderdonk. Washington wrote in his diary that he was "kindly received and well entertained" and the mill "seems to carry on with spirit and to profit." In the early 1900s, the roadbed in front of the mill was raised resulting in the first floor of building dropping four feet below street level. From 1920 to 1974, the mill served as a tea house and popular tourist attraction. The building was placed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places in 1986.

The long-awaited mill restoration began in November 2018 under the supervision of the Roslyn Landmark Society which serves as the project contractor. Chris Cole of Cole Engineering & Construction, a Vermont company specializing in historic structure restoration, manages the project.

The work included safely staging the site, stabilizing the wood structure, mold removal, restoring power to the site, installing a temporary protective roof and removal of the front façade to re-establish the original form of the mill. The wooden "husk frame" which contains gears and shafts for driving and supporting the millstones were also removed for restoration. The first phase of restoration was completed in September 2019.

Over $3 million has been raised for the restoration by the Roslyn Landmark Society from New York State, Nassau County, the Gerry Charitable Trust, the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, and Roslyn Landmark Society's sponsors and members. Once returned to street level and the restoration completed, the building will provide historical and educational exhibits for the public to enjoy.

KEY FACTS

  • The Roslyn Grist Mill is a rare surviving Dutch-framed watermill built between 1715 and 1741 purposely built for industrial use. It operated as a working water mill for over 150 years.
  • From 1920 to 1974, the grist mill building served as a popular tea house and was a tourist attraction to the historic Village of Roslyn.
  • Since 1976, the building has been owned by Nassau County.
  • The building was placed on the National Historic Register of Historic Places in 1986.
  •  From 2015 to 2019, over $3 million was raised by the Roslyn Landmark Society from New York State, Nassau County, Gerry Charitable Trust, Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation and members and sponsors of the Roslyn Landmark Society.
  • The architectural firm for the project is John G. Waite Associates, leaders in the field of historic preservation including Sagamore Hill and the Nassau County Government Operations Center.
  • After 42 years of delays and planning, the restoration began in November 2018 managed by the Roslyn Landmark Society.
  • As measured by the hydraulic jacks on January 23, 2020, the building weighs 78 tons.