Plimoth Plantation announced today that the museum has assumed operation of the Jenney Grist Mill on Spring Lane, signing a lease to run the mill as part of Plimoth Plantation has signed a lease to run the mill as part of the museum’s popular living history exhibits that include the 17th-Century English Village, Wampanoag Homesite, Craft Center and Mayflower II.
The mill is a reconstruction of the original grist mill that once stood on the same site. In the 17th century, grist mills were very important because corn was the major crop for the early colonists. To be useful for baking, corn had to be ground into flour.
The grist mill's owner, Tom Whyte, signed a lease with the Plantaion for the mill's operation, “I am excited to welcome Plimoth Plantation to the mill property. I can’t think of a better partner for this working mill whose story will be told through the talent and creativity of one of my favorite museums," he said.
The history of the grist mill dates back to 1636 when John and Sarah Jenney were granted permission from the town to build a mill for “grinding of corn upon the brook of Plymouth.” John Jenney came to America from Leiden, Holland in 1623 on the Little James. The mill was run by Jenney until his death in 1644. After his death, his wife Sarah and son Samuel continued to run the mill until Charles Stockbridge took over the mill for legal reasons. The mill burned down in 1837, and was rebuilt on its original site in 1970.
“Plimoth Plantation and the grist mill are a perfect fit,” Paul Cripps, Executive Director of Destination Plymouth, said. “The museum is respected and appreciated for its cultural and economic role in this community. I am looking forward to working with Plimoth Plantation to promote what will surely be a very dynamic and unique experience for visitors from all over the world.”
While the mill is known in the community as the Jenney Grist Mill, Plimoth Plantation would like to make this new relationship explicit by using the name The Plimoth Grist Mill at Jenney Pond. The new name ties the mill closely to the Museum’s brand and links its multiple sites into a unified experience for the visitor.
Integrating the Grist Mill with its other key exhibits, Plimoth Plantation envisions the mill as a further enhancement to the rich, powerful encounters with history that the 65-year old museum presents to its visitors. The fully functional mill replica uses water power from Town Brook to turn two 2,500-pound grooved mill stones which grind corn. Visitors to the mill will see the water wheel turning, then step inside and watch the miller grinding grain. Organic stone-ground cornmeal will be sold in a Museum Shop in the lower part of the mill.
Museum staff will offer hands-on educational and interactive experiences, as Plimoth Plantation develops relevant new programming through its operation of the Plimoth Grist Mill. In addition to sharing the story of the mill and the historic site, the Museum will add a science and technology exhibit that focuses on water power and the ecology of Town Brook. In the spring, visitors can witness the spectacle of thousands of endangered alewife (herring) that travel from the sea to spawn.
“The Plimoth Grist Mill is closely aligned with the Museum’s educational mission,” said Ellie Donovan, the Museum’s Executive Director. “The mill provides a beautiful and stimulating environment for offering authentic experiences of history, and adds an exciting new dimension to the Museum’s historic crafts and trades exhibits. We are thrilled to be stewards of this wonderful historic site, and to have the support of so many friends in the community behind this initiative.”
For updates and further information about The Plimoth Grist Mill, visit www.plimoth.org/mill.