Transfer is the culmination of years of effort by organizations and agencies.
March 17, 2014
Ownership of Woodstock’s historic Chamberlin Mill, a rare 19th century sawmill, has been transferred from The Nature Conservancy to Chamberlin Mill, Inc., a non-profit organization established to serve as long-term steward of the site.
The property transfer represents the culmination of several years of effort by these two groups as well as the Woodstock Historical Society, Woodstock Historic Properties Commission, and more than fifty other agencies and individuals to find a way to save this historic sawmill for the benefit of the region.
The .14-acre mill site is located at the northeast corner of The Nature Conservancy’s 98-acre Still River Preserve. The Preserve protects the headwaters of the Still River, a tributary of the important Natchaug, Shetucket, and Thames River watershed. Though The Nature Conservancy does not itself engage in restoring historic structures, it recognized the significance of Chamberlin Mill, and its potential benefits to the public. Holly Drinkuth of the Conservancy worked diligently to gain local support for the mill, and to ensure that it could eventually be given to an entity committed to its preservation. Sarah Pellegrino, who followed Holly Drinkuth in her role as land protection specialist for the Conservancy carefully steered the recent property acquisition to closure.
“I’m so grateful for the tireless dedication of the Mill’s many devoted volunteers for their commitment to the historic integrity of Woodstock. Their vision for the Chamberlin Mill has carried this project through to completion. I’m delighted the character and agricultural tradition of Old Turnpike Road will remain the cornerstone of the Conservancy’s Still River Preserve,” said Holly Drinkuth, Director of Outreach and Watershed Programs for The Nature Conservancy.
Speaking for Chamberlin Mill, Inc., Jean McClellan, President, expressed her gratitude for the Nature Conservancy’s generosity and foresightedness concerning the mill. “We are very excited to be at this point,” said McClellan. “We are grateful to The Nature Conservancy, the Woodstock Historical Society, and the Woodstock Historic Properties Commission for their early partnership that made this day possible. Now Chamberlin Mill, Inc. is in position to move forward with the mill’s long-term rehabilitation as funding becomes available. We are buoyed by our initial year-end funding appeal to Friends of Chamberlin Mill, and by the many offerings of volunteer support and materials. We are optimistic about the renewed future life of the mill and enthusiastic about its educational potential for the region.”
Other board members of Chamberlin Mill Inc. include Dawn Adiletta, Nicholas Bellantoni, Daniel Coughlin, George French, Ayla Kardestuncer, Maureen Olshewski, Andy Quigley, Anthony Reed, Cassandra Ryan, and Evelyn Cole Smith. Richard Roberts serves as legal counsel.
A conditions assessment, feasibility study, and interim stabilization completed under grants from the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation and Society for the Preservation of Old Mills to the Woodstock Historical Society and Woodstock Historic Properties Commission have laid solid groundwork for the necessary long-term rehabilitation of the mill.
The next step for the Mill will be completion of architectural construction documents necessary to accompany the work of long-term stabilization and rehabilitation. CME Associates is donating half of the cost of these documents, to be completed by Evelyn Cole Smith, Architectural Director for the firm.
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.