On Saturday December 28th, 2013, from 4 - 5:30 PM at the Mill at Freedom Falls, there will be a showing of the documentary film titled "Reviving the Freedom Mill." . The 30 minute film chronicles the renovation of the Mill and was produced and directed by David Conover of Compass Light Productions in Camden. Admission is free and will be followed by people telling their favorite stories and reciting poetry about winter in Maine. All are welcome and we look forward to seeing you there!
The rehabilitation of the mill is substantially complete at this point, as shown in the attached photos. We can't thank the construction team enough for their incredibly professional work and the care they took in seeing that this rehabilitation was done to the highest standards, allowing this building to live again, hopefully for the next 200 years. The hydropower installation will wait until the fall of 2014, as we are waiting for some turbine design refinements from the manufacturer, which should make it more efficient in its production of electricity to power the mill, with the excess going into the grid.
We are thrilled to have our third tenant signed up: Erin French's restaurant, The Lost Kitchen will occupy the main floor of the original mill and will utilize much of the new foundation under the western and southern additions. We will be doing fit-out for her over the next few months and then she will be ready to go in the late winter/early spring. With The Mill School occupying the western additions and the second floor and the Maine Federation of Farmers' Markets in an office in the northern addition, we are fully occupied.
We have on display in the basement items, large and small, that were discovered in deconstructing the old mill. These are displayed in a small "museum" area in the foundation. There are also before and after photos there, as well as a list of the individuals who worked on this project and some posters explaining the mill's history and operation, first as a gristmill and then as a woodturning mill.
We have been pleased to have had many visitors to both the mill and the grounds. Now that the building is fully occupied, it will be locked after hours, but we will continue to have the building open during the daytime for visits as long as someone is around. Once the fit-out work for The Lost Kitchen has been completed, we will establish a more formal visiting routine.
We are also pleased to have a completed film documenting the project which premiered at the Camden International Film Festival on September 29. David Conover of Compass Light Productions in Camden produced and directed the film. The film will be shown on MPBN, at a date and time that have not yet been set, as well as at various events and venues around the state. At some point we will have DVDs available. Many thanks also to Maine Farmland Trust, Maine Preservation and GrowSmart Maine.
During the upcoming Mill open house from 8:30 - 3:30 on July 6, there will be an Old Time Music Circle with Orono's Sam Furth and friends from 1-3 at the Mill. Jamming is encouraged – all ages, all talents, so bring your instruments! We hope to see you at the open house which runs from 8:30 - 3:30 as part of the Freedom Bicentennial Celebration.
As the building work is finishing up (the floors were finished last week), we have turned to outdoor activities. The major event was the installation of the bridge over the dam on Sandy Stream. Next week we will be removing the coffer dam installed in anticipation of Sandy Stream. Then we will be set for Freedom's Bicentennial Celebration on July 5/6, with our open house on the 6th.
Don't forget about the upcoming Freedom Bicentennial Celebration on July 5 and 6, 2013. There are lots of great activities taking place around town including music, food, a parade, games, kid's activities, and fireworks. The mill is also having an open house on July 6 from 8:30-3:30. Please visit www.freedombicentennial.us or www.facebook.com/FreedomMaineBicentennial for a full schedule.
The Town of Freedom is having its Bicentennial Celebration on July 5/6. As part of this celebration, the Mill will be hosting an open house from 8:30AM to 3:30PM on Saturday, July 6. We hope to have all the construction and site work completed by that time, other than some additional fit-out for tenants and the hydropower installation. At the open house, we will have some old-timers available to tell stories about the mill and the mill families as they remember them or as they were told to them over the years. We also plan to have some music and will be showing some sample footage for the documentary we are producing about the mill and its rehabilitation.We look forward to seeing lots of you then.
It has been about three months since my last posting. There has been lots of progress, but it has been hard to photograph. Finally this week, as Spring is finally arriving in Freedom, the scaffolding has been removed so you can get a pretty good sense of the outside of the mill. The interior is still tough to capture with all the construction materials lying about, but there are a few things that are pretty easy to comprehend. The sprinkler system, heating (which will be sourced by a geothermal heat pump drawing water from the pond and distributed through refurbished old radiators, which are all now on site), plumbing, insulation and electrical work have continued apace, with most of the rough-ins completed. There are enough finished spaces to have the painters on site now to clear coat the walls, etc.
In addition to the physical progress, we have made progress on a few other fronts as well:
We have approval from the Park Service for the various items that were not fully identified in our initial filing, so everything is on track for earning the State and Federal historic tax credits. I have sold 1% of Freedom Falls LLC to Coastal Enterprises Inc in return for their taking the State tax credits.
We seem to have solved the issue of how to insure not only the building but the potential loss of tax credits in the event of a fire or other catastrophe which destroys the building.
Just last week we received notice from FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission) that our application for exemption from licensing for our hydroelectric project has been approved. Once we fulfill some of their requirements for items that have to be completed before construction begins, we will be able to order the turbine and then install it, the penstock and associated equipment. Also, once the water levels subside after the spring runoff, we will be able to remove the coffer dam set up in emergency conditions in advance of hurricane Sandy and finish the small amount of work left on the dam itself.
We have a signed lease with The Mill School for their use of the western and southern additions as well as the second floor of the original mill building. We are in conversations with two or three potential tenants for the remaining space (northern addition and main floor of the original gristmill).
While we have been unable to do any site work with the frost in the ground, we have been working on plans for: grading around the mill building; installation of a back-up propane generator; a play area for the school children across the pond, a bridge across the stream and display of the old millstones dug up last year-end. Also, the well has been dug, fracked (not the same process as for natural gas!) and tested, all with good results.
We have been proceeding with the construction while talking with the Fire Marshall to be sure we are in compliance with various safety regulations. It has been quite complicated to maintain maximum flexibility for future possible tenants when the range includes a school and industrial production. We have now settled on the locations of each and have put in the appropriate firewalls, doors, etc. Next week we will begin the process of approval of our proposed tenants with the Freedom Planning Board now that the Town has adopted a Commercial Development and Review Ordinance.
Things inside are beginning to take shape, with framing and rough-ins well underway.
On New Years' eve Owen discovered two millstones buried under off the northeast corner of the building as he was digging a trench for the Town fire hydrant and our electrical conduit. The two stones appear to be a pair, one bed stone and one running stone, both with metal bands. Once the frozen dirt and ice are removed, we will be able to learn more about their construction and use.
It is a bit frustrating not to be able to capture in pictures the great progress inside the mill installing framing (preparing for plumbing, heating and electrical) and building stairwells, but that is all progressing well. I will try to capture some of this work this week, but no promises!