A $10,000 grant to the City of Smith Center will be used to help rebuild and replace the blades on the historic Old Dutch Mill.
The mill was built in 1879 by Charles G. Schwartz and his brother. The Schwartz brothers immigrated to Smith County from Germany in 1869. The mill began operation in 1883, making corn meal, graham flower and wheat four for home use and for commercial sale. In the 1930s, the mill, no longer operational, became a welcoming attraction at Smith Center’s Wagner Park. It is believed to be one of only two remaining Dutch-style mills in Kansas.
The mill is a popular tourist attraction and is also used by the community for special events, such as receptions and reunions.
The blades and central timbers of the mill have weathered many a Kansas season and were beginning to rot to the point that it was feared they would pull away from the main structure and cause permanent damage. Community volunteers removed the worn blades. A contractor will rebuild the original specifications. The renovated blades will mirror the historic, handcrafted work done by the Schwartz brothers, including mortise joints. A mortise joint is a notch or hole made in a piece of wood to receive a corresponding projection, or tenon, of the same dimension so as to lock them together.
The project is expected to be completed this summer.