Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Farris Windmill (formerly known as Cape Cod Windmill)

Named after the Farris family, who ran this mill for three generations, this windmill, once the oldest windmill on Cape Cod (built in 1633), stood at the road to West Yarmouth, Massachusetts. It now stands at the southeast end of Greenfield Village.
It seems, however, that the acquisition of the Cape Cod/Farris Windmill in 1936 (a gift to Henry Ford from his Ford dealership employees nationwide) caused quite a stir.
The owner of the mill sold it to Ford's workers who moved it from the Cape to Greenfield Village, and that caused quite a few Cape Cod locals to voice their anger. Although protests came in fast and furious, the windmill was moved. The owner claimed that the town had ignored his offer to make the windmill a historic spot, so, (according to a Cape Cod web site) this truly Cape Cod giant is gone where it will be appreciated for its historical value. It is said to be the oldest windmill in the United States.This mill was built like those the early pilgrim settlers had seen during their exile in Holland. Young men were induced to become millers by being exempted from taxes and military duty. Winds off the Atlantic and Cape Cod Bay turned the mammoth fifty four foot sails, grinding corn into meal in ten minutes or in three hours, depending on the wind force. The long lever between the roof and the ground is used to turn both the roof and the sails in the most favorable positions.
This mill was moved several times, that being easier than finding a millwright to build a new one. The initials "T.G." and "1782" were carved in one of the beams during a move.
The interior has a winding stairway which leads upward three stories from the ground level to the revolving roof area. On the second floor above the foundation are the millstones, which are turned by wooden gears, and below are the hoppers and bins which hold the grain and meal.
Unfortunately, the inside of this majestic structure is closed to the public.

A New England colonial scene at Greenfield Village:
Farris Windmill and the Plympton House


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