Past Perfect

Profiles on some of the more compelling players in the ongoing battle to keep history alive on the Main Line.



(page 7 of 8)

Mill Work

The mill’s original working gears. (Photos by Jared Castaldi)

Chester Springs’ Mill at Anselma powers on.


The circa-1747 Mill at Anselma in Chester Springs is the oldest such working relic in Chester County—and it’s working for a reason. In 2004, the Mill at Anselma Preservation and Educational Trust raised more than $2 million for the restoration of the gristmill and surrounding structures, and for innovative educational programming to go along with it.

Today, this National Historic Landmark offers tours and demonstrations while serving as the home for the Anselma Farmers and Artisans Market. The trust is licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture to sell its stone-ground flour and cornmeal, produced on-site by award-winning miller David Rollenhagen.

“So many historic sites struggle today because they don’t attempt to reach out to their communities,” says outgoing executive director Heather P. Reiffer. “Two of our most successful programs—the development of stone-ground flour products and the farmers market—responded directly to input we received through community feedback.”

This past summer, the mill and the farmers market partnered with the Chester County Food Bank as a drop-off point for surplus fruits and vegetables going to families in need. Such programs have raised the mill’s visibility and increased attendance when visitor numbers are declining at most museums and historic sites.

The trust recently spearheaded a collaborative initiative with other natural, cultural and historical organizations to create “Chester Springs Surrounds. Natural Charm.” The goal is to market Chester Springs as a destination point. With funding from the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, efforts resulted in a brand identity, an accompanying brochure and a website (chesterspringssurrounds.org).

Much of the 22-acre mill site is under preservation easement through the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and a conservation easement through the French and Pickering Creeks Conservation Trust. Environmental projects include working with a local native-plants nursery to mitigate algae growth in the mill’s races and ponds, establishing wildflower meadows, and planting 100-plus trees to limit stream bank erosion.

The Mill at Anselma is open April-December. To learn more, visit anselmamill.org.

 


Anselma Mill’s exterior (left) and workers making flour.
 

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