By Pamela Brown
Darke County Parks
Have you ever gone into a place for the very first time and been overwhelmed with excitement over every single detail?
Have you ever wanted to memorize everything: the smells, the light through the windows, the sounds, and mainly the warm feeling of happiness by being in a completely new place?
That’s what happened to me two and a half years ago, when I visited Bear’s Mill for the first time.
I am originally from Costa Rica, a very small country in Central America, with mountains everywhere and almost the same temperature all year. You can imagine how everything was so new to me when I came to Greenville for the first time, the flatness of the land, the seasons, the weather changing from very hot to very cold in short amounts of time. A totally new experience! I moved here with my husband, Joshua Brown, whose family has been living here for generations. Even Joshua’s grandmother being a little girl helped with the construction of US Route 36.
Bear’s Mill is one of the first places I visited, and I remember parking in front of the building and admiring an incredible four story structure made totally of wood, surrounded by trees and nature.
Opening the door was like opening a door to the past, a wonderful smell of coffee and caramel, a warm welcome, beautiful vintage kitchen supplies that reminded me of my grandmother, delicious candy made by a local lady and handmade pottery with my forever favorite color: turquoise.
Visiting each floor was like entering a different period in time. First you enter through a secret door (I call it that since it’s kind of hidden and most people don’t see it at first). On the second floor you can find the equipment that is still in use to do the grinding. Then, the lovely museum style on the third floor with the miller’s secret spot: his chair in front of the window where he’d admire the view of the millrace (that’s my favorite floor since you can find the covered wagon and lots of photos). And finally, the simplicity of the fourth floor where you can admire the view and the machines that were used once to clean the grain.
Did you know that the building doesn’t use a single nail or screw on its structure and that it is the original building from 174 years ago?
What a piece of history Darke County has! Having one of the fewest working grist mills in all of the United States! Thanks to all of the improvements that Darke County Parks has made since taking ownership, the Mill will be preserved forever.
When I started working here at the mill, I was worried I would lose the magic of the place. Instead, witnessing the excitement of first-time visitors brings me back to the moment I saw the mill for the first time.
Come and enjoy the magic of the mill next Saturday, Dec. 18, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., during our Christmas Open House at Bear’s Mill. For more information about Darke County Parks, visit www.darkecountyparks.org.