Message from the Mill Owner
You know, I never planned on being a mill owner. Yet, here I find myself, owner of Gray’s Grist Mill since 1980. It’s funny how things work out. My first encounter with Gray’s Grist Mill came during the 1960′s. My family and I started summering in Westport. At the time, the miller, John Hart had been running Gray’s Grist Mill. I have to say that, on first sight, I was captivated by the whole experience – the classic New England mill, the picture book pond, and the archetypal miller.
During those summers, I used to bring my children to the mill to visit with Mr. Hart, and to see how mills worked in the old days. Of course, it’s difficult to say who had more fun watching the whole process, my children or me. I’m sure Mr. Hart picked up on this, so when he decided to retire at the age of 80, he gave me a call. In fact, his realtor actually tracked me down half way across the Atlantic Ocean on the Queen Elizabeth II. He knew a sure thing when he saw one. A chance to own a piece of history – “I’ll take it!”
Of course, Mr. Hart chose to sell his cherished mill to me because he knew that I shared his desire to preserve it for future generations. In fact, that was part of the bargain – I promised him to continue running Gray’s Grist Mill as an operating Grist Mill. Mr. Hart trained a new miller, Tim McTague, to take over his duties, and we were up and running.
As the years passed, children were replaced with grandchildren, but the visits never stopped, and neither did my love of the old mill. So when Tim retired from the milling business a few years ago and we were forced to close temporarily, I knew we would open its doors again.
After locating a new Miller, Mr. Thornton Simmons from Little Compton, (whose ancestral lineage ties to the first Grist Mill in Little Compton,) we opened our doors back to the history once again! Thornton retired in 2015 and trained new miller, George Whitley, to the continue the tradition. George’s goal is to share Gray’s Jonnycake Meal with the world – through new customers, stores and restaurants – and through Social Media. Like us on Facebook and stay tuned!
After all, I bought it for the desire that it be here forever.
If you’ve been to the mill before, you know all about its magic.
If it’s your first time, come in and look around. But be warned – it’s only a matter of time before you fall under its spell.