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Yates Mill Prepares for Another Restoration

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WAKE COUNTY — A 250-year-old mill survived termites, weathered a hurricane and now may stand well into the 21st century. Restoration work has begun again on Yates Mill in southern Wake County.

Those who have fought for almost ten years to save it, now say they can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Three years ago, millwright Jan Lewandoski of Vermont completed the first restoration work on Yates Mill. Tuesday, he returned to see how much of his work survived Hurricane Fran.

"Miraculous, I'd say. It's great that the grist mill stayed, and actually, had Yates Mill Associates not arranged to get this work done, this mill wouldn't be here," Lewandoski said.

"Otherwise our mill here would be splinters scattered across southern Wake County," Yates Mill Associates Member John Vandenbergh said.

The storm did wash out the old stone dam. It also emptied Yates Mill Pond and destroyed the old saw mill addition. However, there is a silver lining to Hurricane Fran's dark clouds.

"We really don't say that in public, but the truth of the matter is it really was kind of a blessing in disguise in that it really did help us get some funding that would have taken us a lot longer to obtain," construction manager Billy Bryant said.

It will cost $190,000 in federal funds to make the dam stronger than it was. The pond will fill up again, and the rotting saw mill needed to come down anyway.

Also in progress are efforts to turn the surrounding property into a new county park.

"This is going to be an environmental and historic park at this site. It will help people to understand the past and also look into the future," said Vandenbergh.

The park should open by the year 2000.

Yates Mill is the last grist mill standing in Wake County. The restoration project involves a partnership between the County,N.C. State Universityand Yates Mill Associates, a private non-profit group.


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