Outstanding Adaptive Re-use

Gray - Watkins Mill


The award recipient was Old Mill Group L.L.C. Gray’s Mill is one of the best examples of 1850s gristmill construction in the United States. Built with three-foot thick limestone walls and hand-cut white oak timbers, the entire structure is held in placed with wooden pegs.

Following a flood on the Fox River in 1996, its owner, a history buff, was spurred to undertaking a major rehabilitation project. Workmen carefully removed paint on the ceiling beams; a restoration expert from Hungary removed each of the second floor’s thick, yellow pine floor boards to clean and repair; and an 1850 formula was found to duplicate the original mortar mix.

This three year effort—entirely privately funded—was completed in 1999 and the mill is used today as a banquet facility. Free weekly tours are offered to the public and the mill has been incorporated into the local school’s history curriculum and on the village’s official seal.

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