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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.

Press

2014

PASTIMES: Hatch Mill project aims to preserve history  FEATURED IN THE MARSHFIELD MARINER

  • The Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group is overseeing renovations at the Marshfield landmark.   Courtesy Photos
  • The Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group is overseeing renovations at the Marshfield landmark. Courtesy Photos

Posted Sep. 30, 2014 @ 11:19 am   Written by Nancy Braithwaite for the Marshfield Historical Society

Link to Mariner site –>  http://marshfield.wickedlocal.com/article/20140930/NEWS/140939810/?Start=2

This week I’d like to share some information about an important historical restoration project that is taking place right now, right here in Marshfield.   Anyone driving along Union Street recently may have noticed some activity taking place on the west side of the street near Pine street.  People may have seen an old building at the end of a dirt lane, some may even be aware that that old building is called The Hatch Mill.  The Hatch Mill, originally a grist mill, was built on this site in 1752 by Israel Hatch. In 1812, Israel’s son, Deacon Joel Hatch moved the mill up the lane and built an up-and-down saw mill, which is the long-low shed.  The two-story building was constructed in 1859 by Deacon Joel’s son, Samuel Hatch.  He cut boards used to make boxes on the first floor, and his intention seemed to be to build boxes on the second floor, but there is no definitive proof that this was ever done.

In 1872, Samuel’s son, Civil War veteran Samuel Franklin Hatch, replaced the up-and-down saw with a circular saw, and installed a turbine water wheel at the same time.  The last Hatch family member to own The Hatch Mill was Franklin Decker Hatch (Samuel Franklin’s son), who ran the mill for 53 years, from 1912 to 1965.  He sold the Mill to Robert Reed of Norwell in 1965.

The Marshfield Historical Society purchased the Mill in 1968, and took care of some important work to stabilize and preserve the Mill, including dredging the millpond, repairing and replacing flooring, walls and the roof of the mill, repairing the turbine, and replacing the pond flume.   Some of this work was performed by Marshfield High School Industrial Arts students!  Despite all of these efforts, The Historical Society never had sufficient money or help to make the commitment to fully restore the Mill.  In 2004, The Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group was formed, headed by Jack Clancy and Roy Kirby.   This non-profit group is solely dedicated to the revitalization of The Hatch Mill, to fully restore the mill to working condition.  In the years since they bought the mill, the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group has completed a lot of work at the site, but much remains to be done.  Currently, work is being done to shore up and level the frames of both parts of the Mill – the original shed, as well as the two-story building that was added later.  Parts of the Mill are being disassembled, cataloged, restored when possible, or replaced.  The intention is to keep as much of the original structure as possible.  Much of this work is being done by students from the North Bennett Street School, a trade school in Boston.  The students are studying restoration carpentry – what a great opportunity for them to get hands on experience in a real life historic restoration! MLB Restoration of Plymouth is also working at the Mill.

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– Despite having received a Community Preservation Act grant, more funds are needed to continue the restoration work on The Hatch Mill.   Please check the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group’s website for more information about their work on the Mill: http://hatchmill.com.   Having played a role in the preservation of The Hatch Mill, the members of the Marshfield Historical Society are excited to see the work being done by the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group.   In an area so rich in history, too much of our history is lost or forgotten.  The shared goal of all historic groups is to preserve and protect our history from getting lost or forgotten.  The Marshfield Historical Society has been collecting and preserving items relevant to Marshfield history for more than one hundred years now.   We have many wonderful items in our collection.   Anyone wishing to see part of our collection is welcome to visit The Marcia Thomas House and Museum, located at 65 Webster Street in Marshfield.   The Museum is generally open from 1 to 4 pm on the first Sunday of each month.  The Marshfield Historical Society is presenting an exciting event soon: On Oct. 5, archeologists from Archeological and Historical Associates of Storrs, Connecticut will be talking about the excavations they conducted recently in Marshfield.  During these excavations, they discovered two 3,000 Native American sites, which provided a great deal of information about ancient Native American life in this area.  They also uncovered the remains of a 17th century “earthfast” house.  There were so many artifacts collected from this site, including a lot of pieces of pottery, as well as food remains, that the archeologists could virtually set the table of the family who lived in that home!   This site of an early colonial home, which burned around 1650, also provided the archeologists a lot of information about early colonial life here in what is now Marshfield.  The event takes place on Sunday, Oct. 5, from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Furnace Brook Middle School Auditorium.   Tickets for Marshfield Historical Society members are $5, and $10 for non-members.  For more information about this event, as well as other upcoming events, please check our website: www.MarshfieldHistoricalSociety.org.

–Nancy Braithwaite for the Marshfield Historical Society

2013

After years of decay, revitalization of Hatch Mill now underway

By Jessica Trufant
Posted Dec 06, 2013 @ 06:00 AM

With its walls tilting and windows boarded up, the Hatch Mill was all but deemed unsalvageable. It sat unused for years, its rusting machinery and lumber from centuries past still inside.

The last standing water-powered saw mill on the North River, the Hatch Mill off Union Street is being dismantled, but only to be cataloged, restored and reassembled into a working museum with an up-and-down saw true to its time.

“Saw mills are in my blood. My father learned how to saw on a water saw, so to see the restoration of a mill that isn’t a replica is important,” said Dean Copeland, president of the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group and owner of Copeland and Sons Lumber.

Using $284,000 in Community Preservation Act funds, a major restoration is underway to reroof, shore up and level the frames of both parts of the mill – the original structure, built in 1752 as a gristmill and later converted to a sawmill, and the box mill that was added on in the 1840s.

“Some parts of the building will come apart and be reframed and raised again,” said contractor Michael Burrey of MLB Restorations, who estimates the ongoing work will take another year.

Students from the Boston-based North Bennet Street School this week continued pulling apart the structure, using copper markers to catalogue the placement of each board.

To make the mill historically accurate, a weir will be reconstructed on the river to control water flow and power the saw.

The history of the Hatch family, their mill and the role it played in the shipbuilding industry on the North River is well documented. The two-mile district, once home to dozens of water-powered mills, was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

An active lumberyard until 1965, the mill was purchased in 1967 for $12,000 by the Marshfield Historical Society, which intended to restore it. But member Jack Braithwaite said the society never had the will or money to see the project through.

“We put as much as we could into it, and we did a lot of work, but we never had enough money and the commitment died off,” said Braithwaite, who serves on the preservation group.

Efforts stalled until Jack Clancy and Roy Kirby came along in 2004 and for $1 bought the mill, inheriting about $15,000 in debt from prior work.

They formed the nonprofit Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group, from which Kirby has since retired. The six board members now include Clancy, Copeland, Braithwaite, Barry Cornwall, Stephen DeCastro, Joe Chetwynd and William Powell.

A temporary metal roof was installed in 2004, and Kirby in 2007 convinced the town to spend $120,250 in Community Preservation money, which, combined with a $50,000 state grant, kicked off the revitalization effort.

Once the rehab is done, the group will build a rare up-and-down saw, a component not eligible for community preservation funds.

Chetwynd said he has an 1890 magazine with instructions for building a wooden skiff, which students could use at the mill. “They’d have the opportunity to build a traditional craft with a saw, chisel and hand tools,” he said.

Jessica Trufant may be reached at jtrufant@ledger.com.

Roy KirbyphoMAhatch4_0612cb.jpg

Hatch Mill gets a makeover

Nonprofit changes board of directors

By Nancy White/nwhite@wickedlocal.com

The Hatch Mill is the last remaining water-powered sawmill on the North River, an area that once had more than two dozen saw mills along its shore.

The project to bring the mill back to life and restore it to its historical authenticity has been a work in progress for decades.

The latest chapter in the mill’s restoration will begin this fall. Town Meeting voters authorized the use of $284,000 to complete significant work to the envelope of the building this past spring.

“When you step into this building it’s like going back in time,” said Roy Kirby, one of the founding members of the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group.

In 1752, a structure was built there and served as a grist mill, but it burnt down. It was rebuilt as a saw mill during the height of the shipbuilding era on the North River. Until 1965, the saw mill utilized 14th-century saw technology – the saw would go up and down along a log. Some of these cut logs were used to build ships in the 1800s when the North River was a bustling shipbuilding

“To think this stuff is still here,” Kirby said standing in the wooden structure earlier this spring.

The building is currently tilting in a way it shouldn’t and that needs to be addressed before anything else is done. “It’s amazing how this thing stays up through New England winters.”

The Hatch Mill Group, a nonprofit organization founded in 2004, has recently undergone changes to its board of directors. Kirby, who holds the mill project very close to his heart, has stepped down as president.

“I gave my everything to the mill,” Kirby said in a recent interview. “It will always hold a special place in my heart.”

Jack Clancy, who was the Hatch Mill Group co-founder, remains on the board as vice president and treasurer. Dean Copeland now serves as president and Barry Cornwall and Jack Braitwaite have joined the board of directors.

Historic preservation experts – Michael Burrey of MLB Restorations – will again head up the restoration work at the Hatch Mill. The work includes correcting structural and exterior envelope issues for the two historical buildings.

Starting this fall, Burrey will lead the effort to take the mill apart – board by board in some areas. Each piece removed will be cataloged, restored if possible, replaced with historically accurate materials if necessary, and eventually be reassembled. According to the description of the project work in the application submitted to the community preservation committee, the frame of both parts of the mill – the structure housing the saw mill mechanism and the main box mill building – need to be shored up and leveled. Then both buildings of the structure will be rebuilt and restored.  A new red cedar roof will replace the temporary metal roof installed back when part of the roof caved in 2004.

Additionally the weir (a barrier across a river designed to alter its flow characteristics) that controls the water power that drives the up and down saw blade will be reconstructed. The work will take approximately 18 to 24 months and Burrey anticipates beginning the work sometime in October.

The North Bennett Street School historic preservation program will provide in-kind services to the effort, according to the application.

According to Cornwall, the board is in the process of figuring out how to raise the additional funds to complete the project. These projects include building an 8-space parking area, installing a composting toilet, creating walkways and replicating wetlands (due to the parking area construction).

The Hatch Mill Group has already sought an order of conditions from the Conservation Commission and a special permit for the site improvements.

The ultimate goal of the Hatch Mill Group is to make the historic saw mill a living history and educational center. The Hatch Mill as well as the Hatch homestead (also known as “The Red House”) are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“Over the years and close to half a million in grants, and all the donations as far away as Hawaii – a Hatch descendent, and professors from New Zealand showing interest and all the in-kind services and the generosity from the Marshfield residents and neighboring communities along the North River, we’re closing in on our goal of raising $700,000 set in 2004,” Kirby said.

At Town Meeting this past spring, all the presentations on community preservation articles had to be cut short due to the late hour. “This is your mill,” he told voters.

“This mill belongs to the people of Marshfield and surrounding communities,” Kirby said in a recent interview. “It is a part of me and it’s a part of Marshfield’s history.”

2007

HATCH MILL CAST IN STUDENT’S FILM: Director hopes to raise money to renovate historic site

By SYDNEY SCHWARTZ

The Patriot Ledger
MARSHFIELD – Growing up off Pine Street, Michael DuBois never knew about the aging sawmill five minutes down the road.

But last month, when the 17-year-old discovered the 18th-century Hatch Mill at the corner of Pine and Union streets – and the residents working to restore it – he knew he had to help.

DuBois, a senior at Marshfield High School and an amateur filmmaker, is working with the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group to create a documentary film about the deteriorating mill – and its renovation.

He plans to use the film to apply for a $10,000 grant from the History
Channel, enter it in the Plymouth Film Festival and show it on the local-access cable channel – to increase awareness and bring in donations.

‘‘You can’t get rid of this place,’’ said DuBois, whose company, The Dream of the Woods Productions, creates films to inspire change. ‘‘It’s kind of like a magical place. You walk around, you can almost feel the history.’’

DuBois is working on the project with Marshfield High School technology teacher Jason Soslow, whose students will use three-dimensional animation to illustrate the mill’s saw.

Derby Academy third-grader Jack Noonan also recently completed a video on the mill for a class project.

The Hatch Mill, purchased in 2004 by the preservation group, is the last standing relic of the North River’s shipbuilding history. It was built in 1752 and served as a gristmill before being converted to a sawmill in 1812.
The mill was shut in 1965 and sold to the Marshfield Historical Society a few years later.

The Hatch Mill Preservation and Restoration Group hopes to restore the shack and its manufactured pond and open it as a museum dedicated to the North River’s shipbuilding history.

The group says visitors will hear and see the wooden wheel churning the pond’s water to power the saw. They’ll be able to traverse the ladders between floors and better understand the workers who labored in the milling, shipwright and building trades.

‘‘There’s going to be sawdust everywhere,’’ said Roy Kirby, president of the organization. ‘‘It’s going to be beautiful. It’s going to be like nothing anyone has heard before except way back when.’’

The group hopes to raise $650,000 for the project. It is applying today for a matching grant from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund; the money would help pay for structural work.

It has already received more than $50,000 and hopes to raise more money today. The state will match as much as $100,000, Kirby said.

In April, town residents will vote on whether to put $120,250 in Community Preservation Act money toward the restoration.

The group is also applying to have the mill added to the National Register of Historic Places and hopes to one day provide scholarships to students for preservation-related trades.

For now, the mill remains condemned, with deteriorating wood and fading red trim. Inside, there are piles of centuries-old wood and remnants of antique machines, along with cobwebs and beehives.

A few years ago, the roof collapsed and organizers hired a company that specializes in historical renovations to replace it temporarily with a tin roof. The structure itself is held up by cables.

On Saturday, DuBois filmed a local book club visiting the mill. Members had just read ‘‘The Red House,’’ Sarah Messer’s story about her childhood home next door – New England’s oldest continuously lived-in house. Her house was owned for hundreds of years by the Hatch family, who also built the mill.

DuBois, whose documentary is due by the end of March, said he envisions other groups visiting a revamped Hatch Mill.

‘‘I know that it would be a great place to bring my kids, to say, ‘Hey, look, this is what Marshfield used to be like.’’’

How to help

Donations can be sent to Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group Inc., 125 Furnace St., Marshfield, 02050. For more information, visit hatchmill.org.

Copyright 2007 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Students work to save Hatch Mill

By Kathryn Koch
Tuesday, February 13, 2007 – Updated: 03:54 PM EST

Future filmmakers and animators at Marshfield High School think the Hatch Mill on the North River is “Worth Saving.”

In keeping with the non-profit, tax-exempt Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group’s slogan, “Worth Saving? We Think So,” students in the school’s digital filmmaking and three-dimensional animation design courses are working on two projects in support of Hatch Mill restoration efforts.

The Hatch Mill was the last mill on the North River, from which 1,023 ships were built and launched during the 18th and 19th centuries during a period of industrial growth.

The two most famous ships were the “Beaver,” which was built in Pembroke at the Brick Kiln yard and was later involved in the Boston Tea Party, and the “ Columbia,” which was the first ship to circumnavigate the globe under the American flag.

Jason Soslow, director of instructional technology for pre-kindergarten through grade 12, teaches the two classes. Soslow said he grabbed onto the opportunity to help raise awareness of the restoration efforts and work on projects that fit in with the curricula outlined for each class.

“These fit in with my philosophy that mastery projects should be challenging, enjoyable and have a real-world outcome,” he said.

The students in his digital filmmaking class are working on a documentary film directed by senior Michael DuBois, an aspiring professional filmmaker, that they plan to enter into the History Channel’s “Save Our History National Honors Contest,” as well as the Plymouth Independent Film Festival in the “Future Filmmakers” program.

DuBois is gathering existing footage, including film taken of the Hatch Mill renovation team touring the mill site, and filming and editing his own footage, including an interview with Sarah Messer, author of a nonfiction book about her family home abutting the mill property, known as the Red House, that had been owned by eight generations of the Hatch family.

In Soslow’s animation and digital effects class, several students are creating a three-dimensional computer animation of a saw mechanism similar to the one that was used at the Hatch Mill. They will digitally place the animated saw within a 360-degree rotating mill. This will be their final project.

“This is going to be the big ‘wow’ shot of the documentary,” he said. “I know my kids will do a great job with the model.”

Soslow said the documentary is due into the History Channel by March 31. The winning documentary will receive a $5,000 prize and some students will get an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C.

Roy Kirby, president of the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group, Inc., said he appreciates the help spreading the word about what is an exciting project in recognition of the history of Marshfield and the North River that is expected to cost $650,000.

“It’s nice to see high school kids stepping up to the plate,” he said. “Our passion is to preserve an important piece of history representing the working class of so many generations who contributed to the making of this country through the milling, shipwright and building trades.”

Jack Clancy, vice president and treasurer of the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group, said historical architect William Barry of Cambridge has been hired to lend his expertise to the project. Barry is writing a grant due Feb. 21 for up to $100,000 from the Massachusetts Preservation Projects Fund. Structures North, a structural engineering firm, is on board to me the grant requirements for funding.

The mill group will be required to raise matching funds to receive the grant money. Clancy said the group is seeking private lenders to raise most of the money for the project.

At Town Meeting April 23, mill group members will ask voters to approve $120,250 in Community Preservation Act funding to cover consulting and engineering costs as phase one of Hatch Mill renovation. Phase two will be reconstruction of the two mill buildings with town approvals.

Clancy said group members have also been working on the required paperwork to get the mill listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mill has been ruled eligible for nomination as part of a long process through the Massachusetts Historical Commission. He said preservation consultant Christine Beard prepared the nomination.

“It opens up more avenues of fund-raising and grants,” he said.

2006

Set on saving a sawmill: Dilapidated 250-year-old mill needs $600,000 restoration

By JOHN ZAREMBA

Roy Kirby of Marshfield is leading an effort to restore Hatch Mill. The original gears, which were turned by a water wheel, are still intact. (GARY HIGGINS/The Patriot Ledger)

Roy Kirby of Marshfield is leading an effort to restore Hatch Mill. The original gears, which were turned by a water wheel, are still intact. (GARY HIGGINS/The Patriot Ledger)

The Patriot Ledger
MARSHFIELD – Standing in the dark, damp spot where a giant water wheel once powered huge saw blades, Roy Kirby explains his latest project.

He and his partners want the wheel back in place, turning and churning and making a big racket just as it did a generation ago. They want to fix the creaky two-story shack that houses it and get rid of the sign that says the building is unsafe.

In short, Kirby and the other members of the Hatch Mill Restoration & Preservation Group want to return the 250-year-old sawmill to form and reopen it as a museum that pays tribute to a vital part of the North River’s shipbuilding history.

‘‘All those little shipyards in Pembroke, Norwell, Hanover … all had these mills. And this is the last one, so we have to save it,’’ he said.

Mills like this one are well-documented in photographs and historical books. But saving the building itself could offer vivid insight into the way things were made generations ago.

Restoring the mill will allow people to stand next to the giant grinding gears and traverse the ladder-like stairways between floors. Visitors will see what mill workers saw and touch what they touched.
‘‘It’s far more evocative to be in the place where someone worked,’’ said Brian McNiff, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Secretary of State’s office, which oversees the state historical commission.

Kirby and his partners, brothers Jack and Bob Clancy, have been kicking the restoration project around in their minds for years. In 2004, they bought the 3.5-acre property from the town historical society for $1, with the condition that they would take over the $40,000 mortgage, restore the mill and leave the land undeveloped.

Since buying the property, they have replaced a collapsed roof, hired a firm that specializes in historical renovations and started a campaign to raise $600,000 to carry out the rest of the work.
‘‘We’re going to go nationwide on this project,’’ Kirby said.

He wants educators from all over the country to take interest. His selling point is that people who shaped the nation’s society and commerce may well have set foot inside the mill at one point or another.
‘‘George Washington may have needed wood,’’ he said. ‘‘These guys were around back then.’’
The Hatch Mill, at Union and Pine streets, was built in 1759. A second, larger building was added later, and together the structures provided wood for builders in Marshfield, Scituate and Pembroke. The mill ground to a halt in 1965, and the historical society bought it three years later.

The society intended to restore and preserve it but never had the money to tackle the project. So it sat idle for years, its roof bowing inward and its walls rotting.

Kirby’s track record indicates that fund-raising will not be a problem this time around; he led a $300,000 campaign to build a skate park for Marshfield’s youth downtown. The achievement won him the town’s Citizen of the Year honor in 2004.

About $50,000 has already been raised, including cash donations and in-kind contributions. The group eventually wants to host local fund-raisers – ideas include an open house at a modern-day sawmill – Kirby said they will first try to get the building on the National Register of Historic Places.

Its absence from that list in part led Kirby and his partners to withdraw their request for $120,000 in Community Preservation Act money at this year’s annual town meeting. They plan to make the same request at the fall town meeting.

In the meantime, Kirby is taking a class in professional fund-raising at Boston University and hopes to apply his newfound knowledge to the mill restoration.

‘‘Imagine coming down here and seeing this with your kids,’’ he said, standing on the bridge between the mill and the pond that once powered it. ‘‘This is how it was done.’’

Hatch Mill
1759 Hatch Mill built
1965 Mill closed
1968 Mill bought by historical society
2004 Hatch Mill Restoration & Preservation Group takes over the property and begins restoration efforts

John Zaremba may be reached at jzaremba@ledger.com .
Copyright 2006 The Patriot Ledger
Transmitted Wednesday, June 14, 2006

2004

Run of the mill project

Wed, Mar 24, 2004
By Alice Coyle / acoyle@cnc.com

March22_2006

Restoration group gearing up to save a piece of local history
The man behind Marshfield’s extraordinary skate park was honored as the 2003 Citizen of the Year just a month ago, but Roy Kirby doesn’t have time to rest on his laurels.

Kirby is president of the recently formed Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group which has taken on the monumental task of bringing the 18th century sawmill located off Union Street back to life. On Saturday, March 13, the non-profit group signed the purchase and sale agreement to buy the old mill from the Marshfield Historical Society, which had owned the property since 1968.

Kirby’s group bought the mill for $1 and has taken over the $43,000 mortgage on the property while planning a restoration and renovation that will likely top $1 million when it’s complete, he estimates.

Working alongside Kirby in this effort are Jack and Bobby Clancy serving as Vice President and Clerk of the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group.

The last Hatch to own the mill - Franklin Decker Hatch - gives a tour of the site to former Marshfield Historical Society President Pearl Whittaker and John Vogel in 1968. (Photos courtesy of the Marshfield Historical Society.)

The last Hatch to own the mill – Franklin Decker Hatch – gives a tour of the site to former Marshfield Historical Society President Pearl Whittaker and John Vogel in 1968. (Photos courtesy of the Marshfield Historical Society.)

Historical Society president Jack Braithwaite couldn’t be happier to see the old mill in Kirby’s capable hands. Kirby, is after all, known to many in Marshfield as a man who gets things done around town.
“I’ve been working on this since 1968, and have been chairman of the Hatch Mill

One of the first fundraisers for the Hatch Mill was the Harvest Home Tour of Old Two Mile held November 23, 1968. In this photo by Barye Hall, published in the South Shore Mirror, Marshfield Historical Society President Pearl Whittaker and Donald Kimball ride past the Hatch Mill and through the Hatch Homestead owned by the Messer family.

One of the first fundraisers for the Hatch Mill was the Harvest Home Tour of Old Two Mile held November 23, 1968. In this photo by Barye Hall, published in the South Shore Mirror, Marshfield Historical Society President Pearl Whittaker and Donald Kimball ride past the Hatch Mill and through the Hatch Homestead owned by the Messer family.

Committee since 1970,” said Braithwaite, who will serve on the new group’s board of directors. “I’m very, very happy Roy Kirby and Jack Clancy have come forward with a plan to restore and preserve the mill. It will be a really wonderful day when they finish their work.”

The mill, which had run for more than 200 years came to a grinding halt in 1965. And for more than three decades Braithwaite has had hopes of restoring the mill to a fully functioning machine again, making the historic site not only a tourist attraction but also an educational tool for generations to come.

Built in 1752 by Israel Hatch, the site was first used as a gristmill, but was converted to a sawmill featuring an up and down saw blade in 1812 by Deacon Joel Hatch. In 1859, under the ownership of Samuel Hatch the two-story structure was added at the site. Boxboards were cut on the first floor of the mill building and Samuel had plans to use the second floor to make boxes. Those plans fell through, and in 1872 Samuel’s son, Samuel Franklin Hatch returned from the Civil War, bought the mill from his father and made some major changes to the operation. Samuel Franklin Hatch installed a more modern circular saw to replace the up and down blade, along with a turbine water wheel, both of which vastly improved production at the site. The mill operated for another 93 years supplying wood products for home, building and ship construction. The last Hatch in charge – Franklin Decker Hatch – ceased work at the mill in 1965 and sold the property to Norwell resident Robert Reed for $6,000. Reed would double his investment just three years later when he in turn sold the mill to the Marshfield Historical Society for $12,000.

Fundraising efforts for the Hatch Mill swung into full gear in the months following the purchase. The society had set some lofty goals:

  • To restore the Hatch Mill to operable condition with the up and down saw,
  • Operate the facility as an educational experience for the general public and for students,
  • Halt disappearance of early American Craftsmanship from our area
  • Preserve the mill as a living example of an early New England Industry.

Yellowing newspaper clips saved in a leather album chronicle the historical society’s campaign to restore the mill. From auctions and door-to-door solicitations to the Harvest Home Tour of Old Two Mile held Nov. 23. 1968, the Hatch Mill Committee of the historical society hatched dozens of fundraisers to cover the costs of repairs and restoration work which Braithwaite said he quickly learned would be high.
“When we bought the mill we had an architectural firm -Perry, Dean & Stewart – look at it and let us know what it would take to restore it and get it up to snuff,” Braithwaite recalled. The Boston architects wouldn’t be the only group to assess and study the mill.

The committee also reports hiring Preservation Research – an engineering and contracting firm to prepare a diagnostic survey of the earliest portion of the Hatch Mill at a cost of $375 in the early years of ownership. And in 1971 the group “engaged the services of Kirby Keller, a consultant and contractor for Plimoth Plantation to prepare working drawings and restoration estimates on the mill.”

Keller’s plans, while never built on 33 years ago, were dusted off this week and handed over to the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation group. It was an incredible find, says Kirby who met with a group of Hatch Mill abutters Sunday to hear their concerns and feedback about the proposed restoration project. Kirby found more than just a little sense of fate in the architect’s first name.

“Bill McMullen had the drawings and brought them to our meeting,” said Kirby, who hopes to follow those plans three decades after they were first penned. “It’s going to save us a lot of money and a lot of time,” he said.

Of course, as he has done with the skate park, Kirby plans to solicit the help of dozens of volunteers and draw on the generosity of donors in tackling the mill project.

Braithwaite said Kirby has already been networking with and going after what he called some “heavy hitters” to help finance the restoration.

Kirby’s personal interest in the mill dates back to 1987 when he first wrote to the Historical Society with a plan to restore the structure and use it as a wood working studio for his carpentry business Craftsmanship with Pride.

“I was interested in the mill as a building,” Kirby said. “ I read about it and knew the historical society used to have tours there.”

But by the mid-to-late 1980s, Kirby said the mill was boarded up and he could see signs that kids had been going in the building without permission and hanging out there. In his proposal to the historical society, Kirby provided his background and shared his desire to give young people in the community a closer working relationship with history. “I wanted to do something for the community and preserve an historic treasure,” Kirby recalled.

The historical society didn’t take Kirby up on the offer then. He built his own wood working studio next to his Furnace Street home, but Kirby said he continued to keep an eye on the old mill and to keep in contact with Braithwaite and the historical society. Kirby pitched in at another historical society property and did some roof work at the Marcia Thomas House, but the mill was always on his mind.

And so it was for Braithwaite. But limited resources and a Hatch Mill Committee that had dwindled from 16 members to just 4 by the summer of 2001, led Braithwaite to the difficult decision to sell the property.
“We didn’t have the people power or the resources to do anything with the mill.” While some renovations and repairs had been made over the years including work to the slueceway and the interior of first floor of the building in the 1970s, and the area near the turbine during the 1980s, by the late 1990s the structure had fallen into serious disrepair. Roof shingling work undertaken in 1978 by a high school sponsored group called “Project Enterprise” had given way to time and weather leaving an entire section of the structure wide open to the elements. The mill structure leans heavily to the south and the structure has become unstable, Braithwaite said.

When the property first went on the market, Braithwaite said the historical society was looking for a buyer willing to preserve and restore the structure for use as a mill. There was some interest in the site, but none in saving the mill. “There was one person who wanted to build an art studio inside and someone else who wanted to knock it down and build a house there,” he said.

Then six months ago, Kirby’s friend and fellow Kiwanis member Jack Clancy came to him and suggested they take on a project to restore the old mill. “Jack said he went by the mill it was just incredible,” Kirby recalled.

With a willing partner, and a sense there were people within the community eager to preserve the mill, Kirby found himself writing to the historical society once again and this time around found a very receptive audience for his plan to create both an educational site and living history museum.

“They were very pleased with the scope of the plan,” which Kirby said was first and foremost education based.

As it was with the skate park, Kirby’s vision for the mill is a grand one and includes not only a fully operational mill with the restored up and down saw blade – currently riding in the back of his truck – but also a blacksmith shop on site and a conference room for classes and historical programs.

Kirby envisions a woodworking shop at the mill where people would be working all the time and a sawyer’s apartment whose tenant would also serve as caretaker for the property.

In restoring the mill, the first order of business will be to shore up the roof with braces to hold the structure up, Kirby said. Even with a design plan in hand, Kirby said he’ll to turn to other experts in the building field and older residents with a knowledge of post and beam construction. After documenting everything in the building, Kirby said it will be dismantled and the wood will be sorted. “We’ll go through the wood and anything that can be saved will be stored in trailers until we begin construction. Kirby estimates the project will take about 2-1/2 years to complete, but the discovery of Keller’s plans could shorten that timeframe.
In the meantime, Kirby said the Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group is looking for volunteers of all ages. Working on the project could give young people interested in getting involved in the building trade invaluable experience, noted Kirby. The project already has a Web site – www.hatchmill.org – to give the mill national attention and with its non-profit status, the group will go for whatever historic grants are available at the state and federal level.

Fundraising is one of Kirby’s fortes and he’s already planning tool auctions and other events to draw more community interest and involvement in the project.

“We’re going to stretch that dollar we paid for the mill a long way.”

Interest is already growing, said Kirby, who noted that many people have come down to the site and given him business cards and asked to be a part of the project. But Kirby does request that until the building is made stable residents refrain from visiting the mill for safety sake.

Kirby’s enthusiasm for the restoration is indomitable. “The Hatch Mill has been like its saw, an up and down project over the years. But this is a dream project,” he said. “We’re going to save the mill. We’re going to do this right so it will last another 300 years and be a treasure for the community and future generations.”

 

New owners plan to restore two-century-old building

By SHAMUS McGILLICUDDY
The Patriot Ledger
MARSHFIELD

After years of neglect, the Hatch Mill is finally getting a makeover.
One of the last surviving water-powered sawmills in the country, the 200-year-old mill has been idle for nearly 30 40 years. Built in 1812 by Deacon Joel Hatch on a pond off Union Street, the mill was handed down from generation to generation in the Hatch family for nearly two centuries. Lumber cut from its unique up-and-down saw was used to build houses homes in many of the surrounding nearby towns.

The mill was shut down in 1965 and sold to purchased by the Marshfield Historical Society in 1968. The society intended to restore and preserve it, but the organization never had the money capital to tackle the project. So the mill sat idle on a pond off Union street for years, its roof sagging and its walls crumbling. In March local woodworker Roy Kirby and Jack Clancy, owner of Clancy Construction, bought the mill for a dollar. They formed the nonprofit Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group and they intend to restore the mill to its former condition. The first step is to stabilize the structure. Kirby said much of the mill is in good condition, but that part a portion of it is unsafe and threatening to in danger of collapse. “We’re trying to keep the mill, using a lot of the original structure,” Kirby said. “Our goal in these first few days is to brace it, to get it so it can make it through the winter.” Kirby said it is was important to preserve as much of the original structure as possible. He said the integrity of the mill’s historic value would be lost if he and Clancy tore the building down and built a reproduction.

Kirby and Clancy have hired Rondout Woodworking of Saugerties, N.Y., to stabilize the structure. “These guys are really good,” Kirby said. “These are the pros.We’re going to let them do the work.”

Since announcing their plan to restore the mill in March, Kirby and Clancy have been contacted by people from across the nation who want to volunteer. The owner of a pest control company offered to help fight any termites that may have infested the structure. A mechanical engineering firm offered to design new millworks. Amateur carpenters from all over Marshfield have come forward, ready to strap on their tool belts. “As soon as (Rondout) makes the structure safe, we’re going to notify everyone,” Kirby said. Kirby said they will do as much restoration as possible will be done this winter.

Once the project is completed, Kirby and Clancy hope the mill serves as a museum, a gathering place for veteran craftsmen and a center of education for aspiring craftsmen. “This is going be a great place,” Kirby said. “Not just for kids, but for a lot of old-timers, too. Old-time carpenters and woodworkers can go and
hang out and maybe teach the younger kids their trade.” Kirby said he and Clancy also hope to hold some fund-raisers to help pay for the project.

For more information about the Hatch Mill project, visit www.hatchmill.org.
Tax-deductible donations can be mailed to Hatch Mill Restoration and Preservation Group, Inc., 125 Furnace St., Marshfield  02050.

Reach Shamus McGillicuddy at smcgillicuddy@ledger.com.