At the height of the Civil War, renowned poet, newspaper editor and civic leader William Cullen Bryant constructed a unique mill on his estate (in what is now Roslyn Harbor) to power a workshop, with tools such as lathes, grindstones, saws and grain-milling machines, as well as a pumping system to provide water to his property. With its picturesque Gothic Revival style and the fact that it was also built with a summer cottage on the upper level, it is thought to be the only surviving structure of this type in this country. The mill, which ceased operation in the early 1900s, replaced an earlier one from the mid-18th Century which was destroyed by a fire in 1849. The current mill was almost certainly designed by Frederick S. Copley, who lived in Roslyn at the time, and who was not only an accomplished architect, but an artist and a sanitary engineer and inventor.
“According our plans, Bryant’s 1862 mill will once again be operational this fall, powering some of its original machinery and tools,” according to Tom Powell, Vice President of The Friends of Cedarmere, who is overseeing the restoration effort.
This project was made possible with $147,000 in grant funding from the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation (www.rdlgfoundation.org), $130,000 from the Nassau County Environmental Bond Act, as well as private donations.
“Thanks to the combined efforts of The Friends of Cedermere and the County, we are making it possible for this beautiful and historic Mill to be preserved for the enjoyment of future generations,” Nassau County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton said.
John Dawson, the President of The Friends of Cedarmere stressed that “To achieve the complete restoration of the Mill, both inside and out, will attract many old and new visitors to Cedarmere, to watch the waterwheel function and view the original equipment in the interior driven by it. This should broaden the support of the Friends of Cedarmere in its mission to preserve and educate The public on the life and times of William Cullen Bryant.”
“I am pleased that the county is helping revive this important piece of history, bringing economic benefits and enjoyment for residents and visitors,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said. “I will continue to support efforts to restore Nassau’s historic gems, helping to preserve the past and build an even brighter future.”
“The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation is delighted the restoration of the Cedarmere Mill links this site to a number of other historic mills still found on Long Island. Tracing our mills across the Island offers lessons in commerce, economic development, societal trends, community growth and technology. Mills and their stories are living history classrooms on many levels,” Kathryn M. Curran, Executive Director of the Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation, said.
The Robert David Lion Gardiner Foundation also recently provided a grant to the The Friends of Cedarmere to develop a long-range strategic plan that is helping the organization expand and become more self-sustaining and another grant to reimburse the organization for insurance, utility and other contractual expenses necessary to continue operating during the pandemic.
The Friends of Cedarmere also invites people who wish to contribute to the project to do so through the donation page of their website at www.friendsofcedarmere.org.
—Submitted by Friends of the Cedarmere