By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff
Just along Route 27, past St. Edward the Confessor Church, sits the Kingsbury Grist Mill. It’s a tiny building, decorated with red doors and red trim, sitting between a massive pond and what first appears to be a brook.
Unassuming as it may seem, it’s one of the oldest buildings in town. Built in 1718 by Medfield resident Captain Joseph Clark, the grist mill was a focal point for the community for hundreds of years. The newest addition to the mill was built in 1918 - a plaster weight set on the top millstone was added almost 100 years ago. Take a peek at that plaster and you’ll spot carvings made from visitors, the most recent one from 1995. As one of the oldest historic buildings in town, it presents a unique opportunity to not only show people what life was like hundreds of years, ago but also provide locals with a tranquil place to enjoy the outdoors.
A current fundraiser has been organized to install the original water wheel turbine into the mill and to get it moving again, just as it did in its heyday.
In the town's agrarian past, farmers would bring their corn and wheat to the mill and place it in the hopper, where it would be ground by the millstones, then dropped into the meal chute exit. There, farmers could pick up the product of their harvest and be on their way. It takes a a huge amount of power to move the millstone, though, making the turbine driving it an essential part of the process. “We’re collecting donations to get the turbine put down here, to get the water shooting into the turbine, to get the turbine to turn a shaft, and for the shaft to turn the top stone,” explains Chair of the Kingsbury Pond Grist Mill Committee Dick Judge.
30 years ago, an initial Grist Mill Committee was formed to help repair and rebuild much of the structure people see today. At the time, the town had recently purchased the mill following the death of its last owner, Blanche Kingsbury. "30 years ago, they did most of the work. What we’re doing is relearning, reengineering - because it’s forgotten technology,” Judge says. The last few years have brought additional repairs and changes to help improve the structure and property.
In the 31 years that the town has owned the property, volunteer efforts have turned the Kingsbury Grist Mill back into a town attraction. The Department of Public Works has helped ensure the dam that holds Kingsbury Pond stays intact, while volunteers organizations such as the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, and God Loves Medfield have helped improve the property and turn it into a tranquil setting where visitors can relax in newly added chairs, listen to the sound of the waterfall, and even spot some of the local wildlife. It’s already a prime place to spend time; a functioning turbine will add yet another charming quality to the property.
The current fundraiser kicked off the first week of January and will be ongoing until Memorial Day. As noted in a press release, the expected cost of $10,000 includes the engineering, woodworking, metalworking, and the rental of a crane to move the turbine. Donations can be made through the Medfield Foundation Signature Programs section of the Medfield Foundation website (https://www.medfieldfoundation.org/give). Those who wish to donate must note "Grist Mill" in the "designation" box of the donation form.
As work continues on the grist mill and the property surrounding it, it is hoped that this area will once again become a popular community spot - albeit for recreational rather than agricultural purposes - while providing a tangible, functioning reminder of Medfield’s deep historical roots.