U.S. Rep. John Murtha announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has released the $150,000 grant that he introduced in legislation last year for restoration of the 1854 Saint Vincent Gristmill.
“The Gristmill is a fascinating historic site that still produces flour the way it was done 150 years ago, so this project offers a unique opportunity to enhance the growing economic base that our region has in tourism,” Congressman Murtha said. “I’m pleased to be able to help with such a unique project that enables this living heritage to continue.”
The grant will be used for Phase II of the restoration and will focus on the enhancement of the interior of the Gristmill. Phase I, which was completed this summer, involved the exterior, including the installation of cedar clapboard siding and a new roof. In Phase II, a visitor center and gift shop will be developed inside the structure. A large glass viewing area will be built to enable visitors to view the production of flour, according to Fr. Paul R. Taylor, O.S.B., director of the Gristmill. Safety improvements will be added, along with sprinkler and heating systems. The parking area will be redesigned to accommodate buses and cars for tourists, he said.
The total project cost is estimated at nearly $500,000, including $271,000 for Phase II.
Once used to grind the wheat, corn, barley, rye, oats and buckwheat that the monks raised, the gristmill still provides flour for the famous Saint Vincent bread, popular throughout the region.