City Walks – Mill Art

close up of gear

Using The Old Stuff

The mill complex from last week is gradually being turned into offices, galleries, restaurants and apartments. And the developer is being clever about rearranging old stuff to give it all an artsy atmosphere.

For example, I think this is pieces of some kind of drive shaft placed next to another wheel. A pulley for cable, maybe based on the grooves? All I know is that originally the machinery was driven by water power from the stream next door, but at some point was replaced by steam power. Were these even part of the same mechanism or were they just put together because somebody thought they looked good together? I don’t know.

mill machinery

This is a big millstone, of the kind used to make flour. These buildings were fabric mills, but apparently the site used to be a grain mill, so this may predate the current mills. Or possibly was trucked in from somewhere else.


This is a giant gear of some kind. It’s probably four feet above ground, with another three feet buried.

It’s obviously been exposed to the elements for years, and the people who placed here probably know that whatever rust it develops won’t eat away at it in any significant way for years to come. It’s pretty amazing to think how formidable this machinery was when it was part of a complete unit.

giant gear

This is a slightly more artistic arrangement of old metal. The bottom part is saw blades, which are also something of a mystery to me. I think this mill made cotton, rather than finished lumber, so why are saw blades showing up here?

sign made of saw blades

This piece is straightforwardly fanciful, with no direct connection to the old mill. It shows up at the front door of the architecture program of a local art college. It’s glass spheres inside a wire cage hanging from a crane hook. I’m guessing it’s just there for the whimsy.

sculpture of glass spheres

And finally, this exhaust port or steam shaft is next to a mill building that has not yet been restored. But I’m guessing it’s been left in place, rather than sold for scrap, because somebody has an eye on it. They’re thinking of some way it can be repurposed as a piece of art, or maybe incorporated in the architecture. I hope so — it’s something like eight feet tall, and probably can be put to use somehow or other by a creative person.

exhaust port


Leave a Reply