Our Mission Statement
To preserve and restore Ben's Mill for all visitors, serving as an institution for education, interpretation and a museum of living history.
About Ben's Mill
At the geographic center of Barnet, on the Stevens River, is Ben Thresher s Mill. The mill dates to 1872 and includes a woodworking shop that first specialized in wagon wheels and bodies, then in stone boats and other working sleds, and finally truck bodies and water tubs for cows. An adjacent blacksmith's forge allowed relevant metal work. A third section of the structure houses a hydraulic apple cider press. All the woodworking machinery is in working order, and it is belt-driven from a shafting arrangement in the cellar of the mill. The shafts are also belt-driven, and the primary power source is a water-powered turbine, backed-up by a gasoline engine. The mill dam, which provides the water source for the turbine, is presently in a state of disrepair. The last mill owner/operator was the talented and resourceful Ben Thresher. Year-round, from 1941 until his untimely passing in 1995, he operated a thriving mill, meeting the repair and fabrication needs of people from Barnet and neighboring towns
Ben's Mill Trust
In 1999, Lois and Hiram Allen bought the mill and turned it over to a community nonprofit, the Ben's Mill Trust. The Trust is a federally and state approved 501(c)3 non-profit. Partnerships with the school, historical societies (town and state), selectmen, a state archaeologist, and the Preservation Trust of Vermont led to grant funding, in 2002, to restore the mill exterior, roof, and foundation. Since then, the trust has repaired the belts and shafting, restored machinery to working conditions, established the forge as a functional space, and completed a full-size mock-up of the cider press. Most recently, on August 22, 2009, the turbine penstock was reconstructed using local cedar boards milled for the job on the mill's machinery. Ben's Mill Trust's success centers around volunteers, membership, and donations. Should you be interested in participating in this historic and rewarding endeavor, please contact us.
Ben's Mill Board of Trustees
Hiram Allen, President
Robert Gibson, Treasurer
Eric Esser, Secretary
The Future of the Mill
The Trust Board of Directors is committed to restoring water power to the mill. Repair of the crib dam requires permit approvals from the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR). In today's environment, the approval process is generally very lengthy and difficult. The Board has a dialogue in progress with the ANR regarding the restoration process.
Links and References
Machine and Tool Enthusiasts:
- American Precision Museum, Windsor, Vermont
- Early American Industries Association
- Mid-West Tool Collectors Association
Historic Preservation in Vermont:
- Preservation Trust of Vermont
- The Vermont State Division for Historic Preservation
- Historic Windsor, Inc., and the Preservation Education Institute
Vermont Historical Sites: