Greer Mill returning to life on the 50th anniversary of NHPA thanks to combined efforts of HistoriCorps, AmeriCorps, local volunteers, and Forest Service employees

Release Date: Jun 21, 2016

Contact(s): Cody Norris (573) 341-7405

Crews work together to secure scaffolding for repair work

ROLLA, MO. (June 21, 2016) – Stabilization continues on the historic Greer Roller Mill, located near Greer Spring on the Mark Twain National Forest. Volunteers from HistoriCorps, AmeriCorps, and Friends of the Eleven Point have been hard at work continuing repairs on the site. Archaeologists with the US Forest Service have lent their expertise to keep the project moving forward and to ensure repairs stay true to the historic nature of the property. The Greer Mill restoration is an official Pasport in Time (PIT) project through HistoriCorps. Volunteers interested in saving history come together for PIT projects to prevent historic sites, like Greer Mill, from being lost—giving the American public a chance to enjoy a preserved piece of their history. The revival of this old grist mill also coincides with 2016 being the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA).

Young adults working through Americorps, representing the Shawnee and Eastern Shawnee Tribes of Oklahoma, spent a week on the project this summer. Billy Bryant (crew leader), Lydia Nicholson, Shane Loureireio, Danny Captain, Cypress Cook, and Drew Dixon poured a lot of sweat, on some hot days, to restore components of the mill. Most of the AmeriCorps volunteers are from Oklahoma; but Danny Captain ventured all the way from Ohio to work on the project. He said that working on the mill was giving him a chance to gain new skills while on summer break from Northewestern Community College. It also allowed him to meet new people from the Eastern Shawnee Tribe; and it gave him a real sense of accomplishment, working to restore a piece of history. The AmeriCorps crew has now moved to other projects on the forest. They replanted and revitalized a pollinator garden on the Eleven Point Ranger District at Sinking Creek Cabin; and they will be engaged in invasive species removal for the rest of the summer. Each volunteer will log about 300 hours of volunteer time by July 29, when their season ends. Another AmeriCorps representative assisting with repairs was Air Force Reservist Roseanna Arwick, who came to the project through the VetsWork program.

Of course, no PIT project is possible without the help of HistoriCorps volunteers. Charlotte Helmes was the Crew Leader for the 2016 session. Other HistoriCorps members working on the mill this summer include: Pat Kennedy (job foreman), Ken Hagg, Allison Hagg, Terry Neely, Roger Stevens, Ruth Ann Skaggs, Michael Ketcherside, and Margret Stitzel. Being from Madison County, Roger Stevens and Ruth Ann Sckaggs felt very connected to the project. Mike Ketcherside has returned to the project for the third year in a row.

Forest Service Archaeologist Will MacNeill took on the role as project leader and coordinates closely with HistoriCorps. He recruited and organized volunteers for this project since its inception. “I am very appreciative of all the individuals and groups that joined us to breathe new life into the Greer Mill; and I am especially grateful that HistoriCorps made this an official PIT project,” stated MacNeill.

Local volunteers with the Friends of the Eleven Point played a vital role in the renewal of the Greer Mill. The group’s members include President Brian Sloss, Treasurer Claire Williams, Secretary Joe Beth Anderson, Vice-President Ed Clausen, Clark Buffington, Barb Simpson, and Debbie Sallings. These volunteers paid for the new roof and other repairs through successful fundraising. They also paid for flooring repairs, provided at a generous discount, by Roberts Hardwood Flooring in Mountain View. The company made special cuts in oak and pine to replicate the old flooring. The group has acquired the the old mill’s grist stone from the original mill as well. Brian Sloss stated, “We wanted to save a local piece of history that was falling down so people can enjoy it students can learn about history and engineering, and to bring more tourism to the area.” On September 24, they will host their third Canoe Race and Fun Float to continue raising money for the restoration. The group also plans to host a tour of the mill on Oct. 15.;

Volunteers shared tips with each other based on their previous carpentry, framing, masonry, and other construction experience. “We have some talented people helping us,” stated MacNeil. He continued, “People skilled in construction, such as Patrick Kennedy, have led the other volunteers during some complicated repairs and really kept the Greer Mill restoration progressing through some tough obstacles.”

The first year of the project was 2014; and work on the mill focused on stabilizing the foundations. This amazing engineering feat used local creek rock to rebuild a portion of the foundation of the four-story mill. Also in 2014, a new roof and new cupola were installed by Amish contractors. Once the new roof was in place, volunteers were able to start repair work of water-damaged floors and corners. Last year, repairs centered on fixing the cribbing and replacing a massive weight bearing column. Specialty wood pieces for repairs have also been donated by Roberts Flooring over the past two years. This summer, crews have continued repairs to walls, floors, and corners.; The volunteers also installed new steps leading to the mill’s front door; and started on the replacement of damaged wooden siding on the front of the mill. Friends of the Eleven Point are also paying for replacement windows and splitting the cost with the Forest Service for replacement shutters, to be installed later this summer, that are currently on order from Amish builders.

Volunteers on the project have faced physically challenging conditions in the heat of summer while lifting boards, climbing scaffolding, digging post holes, and completing many other demanding tasks. Now that the mill no longer faces any imminent danger of collapsing due to disrepair, what will become of it? The long-term destiny of a restored Greer Mill has not been decided; but the effort going into its restoration is a testament to its importance. Perhaps one day in the future, visitors can “mill around” the building once more—something Greer Mill has not witnessed since it closed in 1920.