Old Grist Mill Opens Its Doors

By Paul Wolterbeek, Staff Reporter

Hampton Union, July 1988

HAMPTON .... For the first time in many years, the Old Grist Mill on High Street was opened to the public Sunday afternoon. The building is generally shown only by appointment, and another open house is not scheduled for the remainder of the summer. Grist Mill

The building itself is essentially in good repair, although there is little to see inside as the working mill parts are all gone. At this point, there are no immediate plans to renovate the mechanics of the interior of the building.

However, the mill stands as a reminder of the way life was in early Hampton.

The Old Grist Mill sits at the end of High Street near Mill Pond. According to a pamphlet distributed by representatives of the town's 350th Anniversary Committee, which opened the mill Sunday, it was built by Deacon John Tuck after he was granted permission for it Sept. 16, 1686.

The mill was built on Nilus Lane -- now High Street -- on the Nilus River, an intermittent stream that only ran in certain seasons. To compensate for the unreliable stream, Tuck was allowed in 1709 to dam up the springs that fed the river, which converted the area between Nook Lane and Little River Road into a pond.

The mill was passed on from Tuck to one of his 10 sons, Deacon Jonathan Tuck, and from then passed to other prominent local families.

Of 21 mills in Hampton, the Old Grist Mill is the only one that remains. It has sat idle since 1885.

The mill was bought by the town in 1960 for $5,000, and an appropriation of $500 was raised at town meeting to pay for renovations. Since then, smaller increments have been periodically raised to continue upkeep.

Hampton Historical Society members Gertrude Palmer and Dorothy and Leslie Cummings were appointed by the 350th Anniversary Committee to open the mill Sunday, and distributed pamphlets explaining history of the mill.

Palmer said the mill had remained largely undamaged until arsonists struck it in 1961 [August 20th]. After the fire, what few parts remained were taken out during renovations, and some parts were irretrievably lost.

The massive original millstones were removed at one point and halved, and now serve as steps to the building.

If additional money is raised, further improvements to the mill could include refurbishing the sluiceway that once fed the mill wheel, said Palmer.

Historical Society member Ruth Stimson said yesterday that when the mill was in operation, the going rate for service to local farmers was two quarts of meal to the miller for every bushel of corn ground there.

Stimson said "grist" refer to the material ground between the millstones, most often corn.