There is a lot of metaphor in this project — a fact which has been screaming home to me today as I began to deal with blowing the back, unsupported structure off the main body of the mill.
… more text to follow….
To begin at the beginning, let me share with you the letter I just wrote to the AGORA-L newslink provided by Heritage Canada.
Re: Restoration/Repurposing of the Purdy Mill in Castleton, Ontario
My husband and I have recently relocated from Western Canada and purchased 20 acres in Castleton, Ontario, largely because of the potential in the 6000+ square foot, 180 year-old grist mill on the property. Our professional experience is in the performing arts, so this project is one we are only able to tackle with some paid help! We are currently hastening to restore the foundations of the mill, which were severely compromised during a flood in 1986. We continue to be amazed by the structural integrity of the wooden building, which remains upright and reasonably square in spite of the foundation issues, as well as the tremendous weight of the iron mill equipment inside.
We are open and eager for input from professionals and enthusiasts over the restoration of the building, but in particular, we are at a loss over what to do with the equipment. While we will keep some pieces as part of the heritage of the building, we are looking for homes for most of it, including an enormous 1935 Ruston and Hornsby Diesel Engine (rated 38hp/300rpm), which replaced the water from Piper Creek as a means of turning the wheels in the mid-1930’s. Any revenue we could generate from the sales would be of great help, but we would prefer to give the equipment to somewhere it will be appreciated than sell it as scrap metal.
We are currently financing the project solely at our own expense. The first phase of our plan is to shore up the foundations and rafters sufficiently to mount solar panels on the south-facing roof. We have an offer to connect from Hydro One, and are waiting for the final contract from the OPA under the Micro-Fit program. We think that generating energy from yet another source is a fitting next chapter for the story of the building. It will also serve the practical purpose of providing an ongoing source of revenue in order to continue to develop the space, which we hope will be a resource for the entire community, and in particular for performers and visual artists.
Looking forward to any input you may have!