Milling around in cedar point – high plains journal_ ag news

Inspired by the book, “PrairyErth” by William Least Heat-Moon, Dan Clothier began visiting the Flint Hills on a regular basis several years ago. He was driving from Wichita to Kansas City several times a month to check on one of his projects and taking a detour through the Flint Hills was an enjoyable diversion.

“In my trips back and forth to Kansas City I would try to get lost and succeeded quite a few times,” Clothier said. “That was before global positioning satellites.”

On one of those trips he was coming the long way going north from Cassidy when he came to Cedar Point and saw the old mill on the south side of the Cottonwood River.

“I was hooked right away,” Clothier said.

The Cedar Point Mill was built in 1867 by O. H. Drinkwater and J. P. Crawford. The original wooden frame structure was used for sawing lumber. In 1868, Drinkwater went into business with a new partner, Peter Paul Schriver, and they began grinding grain for flour. Drinkwater provided the funds for the business and Schriver was a miller by trade.

The new business operated under the name Drinkwater & Schriver. In 1871, the partners began construction of the stone structure that visitors see today as they cross the bridge into Cedar Point from the north. The three-story stone mill was completed in 1875 and used stone burrs to grind corn and wheat into flour.

The mill passed through several owners in the following years. In 1941, Ray Crofoot bought the mill and began grinding feed for his cattle. After World War II the mill was converted to electric power. Clothier said at one point gas engines were used to power the mill, which continued to operate as a feed mill until the 1960s.

Bruce McMullen purchased the mill in 1988 with hopes of restoring the historic structure. Not long after he first saw the mill, Clothier began working with McMullen and Barry Linnens, owner of the Cottonwood Valley Bank, to survey the mill and determine what work needed to be done.

Clothier contacted James Dubois, a professor in the School of Interior Architecture at Kansas State University, for help and guidance. Dubois made this a project for students in his fifth year design studio.

“Our objective was to find adaptive reuses for the mill,” Clothier said. “Almost all of the students’ plans showed it being used as a museum or possibly a museum and state park. A place where people could come to see how a 19th century grist mill worked.”

The students measured the building and made drawings that were submitted in 2000 to the Historic American Buildings Survey of the National Parks Service..

Pat Sauble helped get the Cedar Point Mill listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007. Sauble is owner of Sauble Ranch located 3 miles south of Cedar Point.

However, after all of this preparation nothing was done to the mill. From 2008 to 2015, the mill continued to deteriorate. It was at this point that Clothier became more involved with the project. He formed Drinkwater & Schriver Mill Inc., a Kansas non-profit corporation for the purpose of purchasing the mill and seeking other interested persons and organizations to fund the restoration effort. Clothier and his wife, Kris, provided the initial funds that were used to purchase the mill from McMullen in April 2015.

During the last year Clothier began cleaning up the property around the mill and demolished the wooden granary that had been added to the front of the stone structure in 1903.

“Our area of concentration, which they allow us to do in a project like this, was the period when it was a stone building in its first phase,” Clothier said. “It is less expensive and less complicated that way. It presents a really wonderful icon and it is a gem of a building.”

Clothier has assembled a team that includes a construction company from Wichita, a stone mason, a carpenter and a structural engineer to map out a plan of action to save the mill. According to the Cedar Point Mill website, there is a long list of items that need attention. There are large cracks in the stone above and below the windows on the northeast corner, foundation failure caused a portion of the west wall to fail, and regular flooding and drying caused the wooden posts and beams supporting the interior structure to rot.

Not all is lost, however. The mill’s 42-inch thick wall on the lower level still rests on solid bedrock. The corners of the mill are nearly true and the structure is still level.

“We are not doing any work yet because it costs money and we don’t have the money,” Clothier said. “What we are trying to do is develop a definitive plan that solves all of the problems so that we don’t have to do this again in 10 to 20 years.”

The Kansas City project that originally brought Clothier through the Flint Hills was a restoration project. He restored the old Kansas City freight house across from Union Station. Today that location is home to three restaurants: Lidia’s, Fiorella’s Jack Stack Barbecue and Grunauer. He also restored an 1870s stone house in Elk County.

Drinkwater & Schriver Mill, Inc., has been approved by the Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) entity. Donations are tax deductible. For more information about the mill and how to donate to this project, go to info@cedarpointmill. com.

Doug Rich can be reached at 785-749-5304 or drich@hpj. com.

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