Thomas Dexter's Grist Mill
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Thomas Dexter's Grist Mill
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County

One of the oldest water mill sites existing in the United States today, Dexter’s Grist Mill, has Plymouth Colony Records dating back to 1640 in which Thomas Dexter was allocated 26 acres and 6 acres for his mill. An absentee mill owner, Thomas Dexter lived in Lynn, Massachusetts. In 1646, Thomas Dexter, Jr. was the miller. March 1 1653, there was a town meeting to discuss the reconstruction of the mill due to damage from a broken dam. It was not until June 26, 1654 that a town agreement was reached to rebuild the mill with Thomas Dexter Jr. Thomas Dexter’s son John inherited the mill in 1686. John Dexter sold the mill to Seth Pope Senior in 1700 and moved to Portsmouth, Rhode Island. In 1800 a fulling mill, used for carding wool and treating woolen cloth, was constructed just east of the gristmill on the dam. It was torn down in 1830. In 1856 a new mill building replaced the old woolen mill and manufactured marble stone products. An iron turbine replaced the wooden waterwheel in Dexter’s Mill in 1856.

The second mill building saw many types of industries from 1859 through 1879 such as a wheelwrights shop, clay pounder to produce glass, jewelry box production and a card and tag company.

The gristmill last operated in 1881 when Captain Laban Crocker was miller. The two mill buildings were joined and operated as the Sandwich Card and Tage Company into the early 1900’s.

Mrs. Alice Harvey converted the mills into a teahouse in 1920 and functioned as such during the summers, into the 1950’s.

The town of Sandwich bought the mill complex for $6,300 as part of an effort to preserve the historic district. In 1961 Dexter’s Mill was restored with authentic wooden parts and an undershot wooden waterwheel. The millstones were imported from France. Opened in 1962, Dexter’s Mill is available to the public.

The mill and mill grounds are well preserved. Dexter’s Mill sits on the dam, which creates a beautiful, large millpond. The meandering millrace is lined in cut stone. The foundation of the three-story building is laid in cut stone with an undershot wooden waterwheel on the east side. The mill building is sided with natural shake. All of these elements make the area most picturesque.

(Sandwich Historical Commission, 145 Main Street. P.O. Box 490, Sandwich, Mass. 02563; Town of Sandwich; Sandwich Archives & Historical Center 145 Main Street, Sandwich MA 02563; Barbara L. Gill, Archivist at Sandwich Archives & Historical Center

Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Mill Race
Mill Race
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Plaque
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Wooden Water Wheel
Wooden Water Wheel
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Wooden Wate Wheel
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Sluice Gate
Sluice Gate
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Mill Pond
Mill Pond
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Mill Pond
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Hook and Crane
See Same Photo Below
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Hook and Crane
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Mill Stones in Wooden Case
Dexter Water Mill - Hopper, Shoe and Damsel
Damsel and Shoe under the Hopper
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Bags of Corn Meal
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Corn Meal Ground from Mill Stones
Ground Corn Meal
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Mill Stones
Captions Below
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Mill Stones
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Hopper on top of the Mills Stones
Captions Below
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County
Thomas Dexter Grist Mill, Sandwich Massachusetts, Barnstable County - Display Mill Stones
Display Mill Stones
Dexter Water Mill
Mill Stone Display

Hours: Seasonal.
Contact Sandwich Historical Commission at P.O. Box 1905, Sandwich, MA 02563 or email tblake@sandwichhistory.org

Directions: In Sandwich across the steet from Town Hall on Town Hall Square

Address: 2 Water Street, Sandwich MA 02563

Click Here for Google Map to locate Dexter's Mill.
You may only see the mill behind the treees. But the Mill Pond is easily identifiable.

Bibliography:
Beals, Fred. Windmill List. Society for the Preservation of Old Mills. Mishawaka IN. 2002.
Cape Cod. Map. Rand McNally, 2000.
"Thomas Dexter's Grist Mill" Brochure. Sandwich MA: Sandwich Historical Commission 1978

 

 
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