The Roslyn Grist Mill was raised eight feet above its previous height last Thursday to allow renovation workers to pour a new foundation below the historic building.
Politicians and history buffs gathered to commemorate the occasion, and looked on in awe as a hydraulic lift system slowly brought the 300-year-old mill higher and higher.
“This is a significant day in the history of the Village of Roslyn,” Roslyn Landmark Society President Howard Kroplick said. “The Grist Mill dates back over 300 years. Within an hour or two it’s going to be four feet above street level, which is amazing because for the last 100 years or so it’s been four feet below street level.”
The mill was raised over the course of the day in 12-inch increments. In between, construction workers scrambled to add to the towers of box cribbing (interlocked wooden pillars stacked to support the building’s weight from underneath) below the structure.
Engineers at the site had to take care to avoid damaging the centuries-old mill as they brought it up.
“We have to be very careful how we lift it,” engineer Rocky Vinciguerra said. “There’s a lot of points that we have to lift from, which we normally wouldn’t have to lift from because it’s so fragile.”
After years of languishing and detioration, the Roslyn Grist Mill was purchased by Nassau County in 1975. Restoration work began near the end of 2018, after years of tireless work by the county and the Roslyn Landmark Society to raise money for the project through state grants and private donations. Town of North Hempstead clerk Wayne Wink helped champion the restoration during his time as a legislator, eventually passing the baton to current District 11 Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton, whose historian mother actually wrote a paper on the mill that proved crucial for early research. All three of them were on hand to commemorate the occasion.
“The joke of today is if the Grist Mill fell in the water, this is Wayne’s project, but now that it’s still in one piece I’m taking credit,” DeRiggi-Whitton said to laughter.
Wink remarked he was happy the restoration project survived through the Great Recession, when earlier efforts to drum up funding ran into bleak economic conditions.
“We were able to get some funding in place in 2009 but then everything came to a halt,” Wink said. “So really this moved forward by inches until we were in a position where we were able to do more.”
Once the work on the foundation, which Kroplick estimated should take about a year if funding holds up, the Grist Mill will again be to street level atop its new foundation. Once the project is finished, the mill will serve the public as an educational center in the heart of the village.