The Roslyn Grist Mill will be raised eight feet to allow for a new foundation to be set underneath at a public ceremony hosted by the Roslyn Landmark Society on Thursday, Jan. 23, from 10 a.m. to noon.
Workers will rapidly add timber cribbing to brace the building after it’s lifted to 80 percent the height of a regulation basketball rim so that work can be done beneath the ground floor. The foundation will excavate the existing, water-damaged foundation and replace it with a water-tight foundation that will be better able to handle the elements. Specialists will also work to restore some of the mill’s support beams, using what the Roslyn Landmark Society referred to as “centuries-old wood restoration methods,” before the building is eventually lowered to street level for the first time in more than a century.
The Roslyn Grist Mill is one of just a few surviving Dutch colonial frame buildings in the country, and has stood at its current site for around three centuries. It is believed to have been erected by Jeremiah Williams at some point between 1715 and 1741. The mill was later sold to Henry Onderdonk, who operated the structure when then-newly-minted U.S. President George Washington paid a visit in 1790.
The mill was purchased by Nassau County in 1975, and fell into a deeper state of corrosion and disrepair with every passing year, despite calls from residents to save the historic building from ruin. The Roslyn Landmark Society, the Village of Roslyn and the county have joined forces to spearhead restoration efforts in recent years, securing hundreds of thousands of dollars in grant money and private donations to help bring the building back to its former glory. The county has granted a total of $440,000 to the project, in addition to $500,000 granted by the state and another $1 million raised privately by the landmark society. Restoration work began in earnest in late 2018, and the grist mill is planned to be opened to the public as an education center once the work is done.