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The Mill is currently closed to the public for safety reasons until restoration is complete. Public visits to the Mill will be announced as construction proceeds. For more information please contact President Dean Copeland at Copeland.sawmill@verizon.net, or 781-837-3001 or by mail to Hatch Mill, P.O.Box 2518, Ocean Bluff, Massachusetts 02065.

About The Hatch Mill

The Hatch Mill, built in 1753, is the last remaining water-powered saw mill on the North River. It is a piece of the living history for Marshfield, towns of the South Shore, New England, and America. Today, the North River is filled with recreational boats, but in the 17th and 18th century it was bustling with the industry of boat building and related trades. The North River is the “river that launched a thousand ships.” The Columbia was launched on the North River and sailed to the Pacific Northwest under Captain Robert Gray. In 1792, Captain Gray discovered the Columbia River and named it after the ship. In 1790, it became the first American ship to circumnavigate the globe. Today, only plaques remain of the many shipyards that once built the ships that sailed to open the great American west. The wood used by these shipyards was local timber sawn by the many saw mills on both sides of the North River. The Hatch Mill, a water-powered up-and-down sash saw mill, still stands beside its mill pond and represents this glorious New England and American History.

There are people all around the country whose roots go back to this history. I know because I live in a house that also has a long history, the Cornet Stetson House, built in 1690 and located directly across the North River from a home built by Walter Hatch in 1647, before the time of the Hatch Mill, as depicted in Sarah Messer’s book The Red House: Being a Mostly Accurate Account of New England’s Oldest Continuously Lived-in House. The Stetson and Hatch kindred is huge, and their roots go back to both homes along the North River. Cornet Stetson built one of the earliest sash saw mills in America, and many of the boards in our home have the up-and-down saw marks which are specific to that type of saw mill and time. Boards that do not have these marks are replacement boards from a later time. The history of the building of this early American home can be read through the saw marks on the boards.

The significance of early saw mills, such as the Hatch Mill, to the building and growth of America is not fully understood or appreciated. Imagine if we did not have easy access to lumber. Home Depot, Lowe’s, the many local lumber yards and saw mills such as Copeland Brothers and Taylor Lumber in Marshfield and the hundreds of homes being built on the South Shore are an everyday testament to the significance of the history of the Hatch Mill saw mill.

It is important to understand our history. We stand on the shoulders of those before us. History helps us to understand who we are, and where we live. It is especially significant to experience history, to be able to touch and see and feel history. Living in a 300 year old home, I experience history every time I walk through my house. I feel generations before me who lived and worked in this same space. I can envisage someone’s hands using tools to make the structure. I can sense the smell of food cooking in the large open fireplace. For 300 years, generations of families ate, slept and worked in the place where I now eat, sleep and work. My home is a living history.

The Hatch Mill is also living history. It represents all the stories of the many mills that once lined the North River and all the jobs and people that worked in those mills. Once a building is gone, that living history is lost forever. We must save the Hatch Mill for the future. It is our responsibility to our past. When it is restored it will be a place of living history as well as an educational center and museum for the preservation and teaching of traditional technologies and trades such as timber framing, boat building, and furniture making. -Laura and Rick Brown Co-founders of Handhouse Studio, Norwell, MA