ashley falls mill
- Restoration and rebuilding of historic structure
- Historic elements documented and recreated to rebuild fire-damaged areas
- Extensive research into recreating original color palette of mill
- Extensive involvement with the Ashley Falls Historic Commission
- Project also included restoration of original dam, mill pond and overflow stream
Situated at the center of historic Ashley Falls, MA, and built in 1782, Colonel Ashley’s Mill had lay dormant for the last twenty-five years. A fire had partially destroyed approximately one-quarter of the structure. Gertler & Wente Architects was hired to restore the building and convert it to a single-family residence.
Using archival photographs of the original mill and extensive research into current preservation technology, the approach was to restore the structure to its original form. This included the removal of later additions as well as removal of non-period details, materials, and colors. The original plan was not altered, but rather new uses (residential) were incorporated into the existing layout. The original timber frame was reinforced and modified to create a dramatic open two-story living space. A large steel and glass bay window faces the millpond and fills the interior with natural light. The original mill works were retained and incorporated into the interior. Gertler & Wente worked closely with the local Historic Commission and the Massachusetts State Department of Waterways throughout this restoration.
The renovation resulted in the reconstitution of this historic structure sensitively adapted for residential use. All windows visible from the street and town were replaced with historically accurate sashes. Trim siding, and roofing were recreated from archival photographs. The interior timber frame (chestnut and oak) was reinforced and repaired using original mortise and tenon jointing.
This mill represents an important link in the history of this small agricultural village. The mill was a major producer of grain in the area for over two hundred years. Through this adaptive re-use project, it regained its importance in the center of the town.
Photography by Michael Arnaud