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!
We are now turning our attention to preparing the interior of the original foundation for installation of the hydropower system. This has involved removal of heavy items from the foundation, discovery and removal of the old cast iron turbine and removal of the concrete side of the tailrace where the water exits the turbine and building. The heavy lifting is being done by Rockport Steel.
We are almost done with the foundation restoration and repairs of the timber frame structure, allowing the Cold Mountain Builders' crew to start the rebuilding process.
This blog follows the process of rehabilitating the mill and restoring hydropower to the dam at Freedom Falls in Freedom Maine.