The Cedar Point Mill will continue to undergo restoration and preservation efforts, with the help of grant money and community support. In July, the mill received a grant from the Kansas Heritage Trust Fund from the Kansas State Historical Society for partial funding to replace or repair masonry on the mill’s west wall.
“It is our heritage,” Board Member Dan Clothier said. “It helps contribute to different chapters of what went on in our history.”
O.H. Drinkwater was a significant figure in Chase County history, being a “free-stater,” founding Cedar Point, helping establish the mill and run the Leader-News. He was also heavily involved in county politics. After being established in the area for about 11 years, Drinkwater established the flour mill with P.P. Scrhriver. The mill we see today was originally built in 1875, and the damn off of it transitioned from log to stone in 1884. Later, the mill would function as a feed mill, instead of a flour mill. The mill ceased operations in 1988 and has been subject to the effects of time. In 2007, the mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. This is imperative for the grant the mill recently received.
The grant will cover 80% of the funds, and the organization is responsible for raising or being granted the other 20%. The grant, in the amount of $56,000, is issued on historic merit and requires a place to be on the National Register of Historic Places.
Last year, the mill received a $50,000 grant from the Trusler Fund through the Emporia a Community Foundation. Those funds were used to stabilize the structure. After that, the mill was eligible for historic tax credits.
Originally, the organization planned on bringing in fundraising professionals, but now Clothier and the rest of the board understand that these ongoing projects are a process and that there are grants out there that suit the needs of the mill.
“You can still celebrate and enjoy the mill, even though it isn’t completely finished, yet” he said. “Our objective is still to have it be an educational tool and a place to appreciate not just the flour milling and water power ... It’s really a perfect laboratory for a lot of things, including civilization interacting against the river ... and all of the flora and fauna along the river.”
While some may see the structure as a “pile of rocks,” Clothier believes the beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
It’s not just the history that is important. The future possibilities for what can be held inside the structure is equally important. Physics, architecture and biology, among other subjects can be studied from inside the mill, and the using it as a future educational facility is of utmost importance to the board.
In addition to the grant, Clothier shared that recently, the two buildings, formerly storefronts, across from the mill have been donated to the mill. The board is considering auctioning them off to someone interested in rebuilding them.
There is also a new fire station being built on the south end of Cedar Point. The mill has a right of reverter on the fire station, meaning if the fire station is not used as a fire station, it reverts to a mill parcel.
There is no specific timeline for the project, but the money must be spent by November of 2021, so Clothier anticipates much of the work being done throughout next year. The mill is currently closed to the public, though the board is considering how to get the public involved with the mill in the future, pending the state of the novel coronavirus pandemic.