For years, preservationists have hoped to complete a restoration project on the Roslyn Grist Mill, one of the village’s oldest and most celebrated buildings.
In 1976, the Grist Mill was acquired by Nassau County. And with belt-tightening the norm for county spending over the past two decades, the project has languished due to an understandable lack of funding.
However, help is on the way. Last week, the Roslyn Landmark Society announced that it has received a $500,000 grant from the New York State Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation for the restoration of the mill, also known as the Williams-Robeson Grist Mill.
Landmark Society officials added that funds up to $500,000 have been committed by a private foundation. In addition, the Landmark Society and the Village of Roslyn are working with Nassau County to obtain previously allocated funds of $250,000 from the Environmental Bond Act (EBA).
The applicant for the grant was the Village of Roslyn, while the Landmark Society is the agent charged with overseeing the restoration.
Landmark Society officials said that there is no timetable for when the actual renovation work will begin and be completed, but they are optimistic about the immediate future. Anne Tinder, the executive director, told The Roslyn News that the Landmark Society is now waiting for instructions from New York State officials to begin the next steps. Winder said that a complete re-evaluation of the site is needed before construction bids can go out. That work should occupy the Landmark Society over the winter months, with construction hopefully beginning in the spring of 2016.
“We will have to stabilize the building and lift it up to street level,” Winder said. “We can’t do that over the winter.”
Still, Landmark Society members are more than pleased to be able to begin the process that will bring the Grist Mill restoration to fruition. From the early eighteenth century onward, the mill has been an integral part of village life. Constructed in 1715, well before the founding of the United States, the mill was the economic generator for the Hempstead Harbor community for over 200 years, lasting into the early years of the twentieth century.
After that amazing run ended, the mill was transformed into a popular restaurant in downtown Roslyn. From 1916 to 1975, it operated as the Roslyn Mill Tea House, as generations of parents treated their children to its delicacies, while allowing them to take a step into Long Island history.
In 1976, the mill, as noted, was acquired by Nassau County. Ten years later, in 1986, the mill was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Although renovation work has stalled, the listing allowed the mill to remain on its original site until that work could be done. Finally, in 2015, the Society for the Preservation of Long Island Antiquities (SPLIA) nominated the grist mill as one of two buildings representing Long Island’s Industrial Heritage at Risk.
The mill is important because of its long historical link to the economic and cultural life of Roslyn, but there is also an aesthetic value. The mill, Landmark Society members said, is one of the few remaining Dutch-framed commercial structures in the United States.