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Warren County Local History by Dallas Bogan

The Old Jenning's Mill In Waynesville

Dallas Bogan on 18 September 2004
original article by Dallas Bogan
Return to Index to see a list of other articles by Dallas Bogan

The following was written by Dennis Dalton of Waynesville.

"The Jennings Grist Mill, (Waynesville) Three Centuries Park, was demolished during November of 1979 by Lowell Rapp and Company after a large crack developed in the southeast corner of the brick structure endangering it for further use. Architects who investigated the damage suggested demolition since the structure was not historically significant architecturally on any other than local level and estimated that it would take $100,000 to restore it. The mill throughout its history was under various common names including: Paul Lewis Mill, Wright's Mill and the Jennings Mill. The mill was constructed in 1825 by John Jennings who owned and operated it for several years during its early history. According to Rapp, cost of the wooden construction in the building, siding etc., was poplar. The floors were of beech, ash, sycamore and chestnut. The top floor was all poplar. Dismantling began November 4, 1979.
"Floor joists and beams were oak. One beam measured 60 feet. Most other beams measured 12 inches by 15 feet. 'There aren't any trees around here to make those out of,' Rapp commented.
"The lumber in the mill was all marked with Roman numerals. 'I think that was easier than making numbers,' Rapp said. However, floor joists were marked consecutively 1,2,3, etc., starting at the west end. All cross supports and posts were made on the ground and sent up by hand. These were numeraled on the end near the edge.
"It was a shame to see it come down," said Rapp. "They are the hardest things to tear down. They are pinned together."
"Among the handmade bricks the workmen discovered a brick at the top of the structure with a cat's paw print in it. Another paw print was found in a brick and the print showed a two toed foot.
"Rapp estimated that the building which was 60 feet by 30 feet was constructed of 100,000 bricks. The first two floors were brick with the gables of brick and side of the third floor constructed of timber and poplar siding.
"The gables were two bricks thick. The south wall was four bricks thick. The northeast corner at the top of the bricks were five thick. The first floor had five brick courses wide, second level had four wide and third floor gables, two wide. It is possible that the building contained more than 100,000 bricks.
"An antique blue glazed porcelain marble was discovered during the work. The workmen looked for any relics in evidence and picked through the rubble and into obscure place since Rapp had heard 'stories of a man who used to hide money in the building.' However, no money was found.
"Rapp did find a feed mill sack. The paper sack was imprinted "Star Lite Mill" and was found under a beam. A brass spatula type scraper was also found. In a corner of the third floor, workmen discovered a grindstone type device with a cast iron ridged plate, ribbed with three bolt holes which resembled a jaw type gravel crusher.
"The roof was pinned together with wooden pegs. The wood was of light weight.
"A walnut board found in the building was stenciled J.H. Caskey. It was nailed to the wall on the second floor. John H. Caskey lived on the corner of Third and Chapman Streets (Waynesville), southeast side, in the house that was for many years the Alice Broski residence. Caskey was a member of St. Mary's Episcopal Church.
"The rafters of the mill were finished with a beaded edge which indicated true craftsmanship and ornament not usually found in an industrial building but indicative of the 1820's period. `Wages meant nothing in those days,' said Rapp. 'They were proud of their work.'
"The nails of the building were huge hand wrought nails.
"`A building like that today would run between a quarter and a half million dollars and one wouldn't have near as strong a building,' Rapp pointed out.
"A series of iron pulleys were found and were apparently from the period when the mill was used as an ice plant during the days when it was owned by Charles M. Robitzer who developed the Wayne Park swimming pool and fishing/picnic complex in 1930 around the mill.
"The workmen also discovered a five pound Starlight Patent flour sack that was imprinted Waynesville Mills, C.M. Robitzer, Prop., Waynesville, Ohio and produced by the Raymond Bag, Middletown, Ohio.
"The mill was converted to ball bearing milling machinery in 1911 and the last grist mill and feed were ground that year.
"C.M. Robitzer bought the mill and property from a Mr. Barbeau."

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This page created 18 September 2004 and last updated 28 September, 2008
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