By Rose Weldon, Roslyn Times Preservation specialists raised the Roslyn Grist Mill above street level for the first time in 100 years last Thursday.
The Roslyn Landmark Society, which has worked with Nassau County on the historic property for 43 years, has raised over $3 million through grants and donations to raise and restore the 300-year-old mill, society President Howard Kroplick said.
The mill, which was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986, is one of only a few surviving Dutch-framed watermills built between 1715 and 1741 that were purposely built for industrial use rather than farming, and it was used for over 150 years. The raising and restoration project began in earnest in November 2018.
“This is a significant day in the history of the Village of Roslyn,” Kroplick said. “A lot of people ask me, ‘Why did the Grist Mill sink?’ It didn’t sink, they added the road four feet above it.”
By the end of the raising, which began at 10 a.m., the structure had been raised an additional four feet above Old Northern Boulevard, and it will be lowered to street level once a new foundation is laid underneath, according to Kroplick.
Following the new foundation, Kroplick said, the landmark society will restore it to its original state, as it was found in the 1700s, to serve as an educational center that will address the history of Roslyn, as well as the histories of grist mills and industrial buildings on Long Island.
The project is managed by Cole Engineering & Construction, a company specializing in historic structure restoration, and John G. Waite Associates served as the project’s architects.
Kroplick thanked the State of New York, Nassau County and the Town of North Hempstead for their assistance in completing the work.
“Not only does it take a village to get things done, it takes a county, it takes a state and later we have Tom Suozzi coming, so it’ll have taken the United States government also,” Kroplick said in jest, referring to the congressman representing the 3rd District.
County Executive Laura Curran thanked Kroplick for his leadership and commented on the mill’s place in the country’s history.
“This is living history right in our county,” Curran said. “George Washington wrote admiringly in his journal about this structure, and this is a direct line between now and then.”
Town Clerk Wayne Wink assisted in acquiring funding for the project while serving as a county legislator in 2009.
“I’m pleased to be a small part of this living history because I always say that I didn’t have the good fortune of growing up in Roslyn, but my daughter does,” Wink said, “This is her history as much as it is our collective history, and I look forward to the day when her children and their children can look back on this.”
County Legislator Delia DeRiggi-Whitton noted that her mother, Millie DeRiggi, a historian formerly associated with the Nassau County Museum Division, had written a paper on the grist mill in the 1990s. Kroplick later said that DeRiggi’s work had been among the research the society looked into upon taking on the project.
“It’s really amazing, the impact that the mill had on the settling of this area,” DeRiggi-Whitton said. “I was raised by a historian, and if we don’t respect those that were here before us, we don’t appreciate how far we’ve come and how far we have to go.”
Town Supervisor Judi Bosworth joined in thanking Kroplick and echoed DeRiggi-Whitton on the importance of maintaining local history.
“It’s bringing history right into the lives of our residents, and I can’t think of anything better or more important in terms of preserving history, making it real and bringing it to our homes,” Bosworth said.
Landmark society Executive Director Jennifer Lister thanked the project’s supporters, but noted that the mill’s journey wasn’t complete.
“Moving forward, we have a lot more work to do,” Lister said.