Rare Wooden Windmills Dot The Long Island Landscape

Rare Wooden Windmills Dot The Long Island Landscape

Posted by on May 5, 2015 in Arts & Culture, Historic Long Island | 0 comments

Amidst the lush scenery of Long Island’s Hamptons region, where sparkling beaches, farmland and picturesque villages abound, a surprising historical treasure awaits. Surviving centuries of time, historic wooden windmills, reminiscent of old time England, dot the landscape. Read more about the history of these fascinating structures and where you can see them.

Geographically rare wooden windmills on Long Island were constructed in the “smock mill” style, so-called because their skirted design resembled a baker’s smock. According to local historians, they are also called “cap mills” because the top cap of the mill rotates. They have oversized lattice blades and wood-shingle construction.

Long Island holds 11 such windmills. Few of this style of windmill remain in the United States and it’s quite unusual to find such a large concentration of them in one area. In fact, local historians claim that Long Island holds the largest number of this type of windmill in one place.

The historic windmills on Long Island were created by skilled artisans and many have been restored and are open for visitors to explore how these massive machines benefited early Americans and aided in their survival. A windmill worked by converting wind into energy through the rotation of a wheel powered by the blades. Typically, the windmills on Long Island were used to grind grain into flour.

For the most part, this type of windmill became obsolete in the 20th century, and the wood construction of these historic marvels made them vulnerable to weather damage.

Although the use of windmills was superseded by modern technology in the last century, the interest in wind technology, albeit in a much more modern looking form, is again enjoying resurgence as an energy-efficient alternative to fossil fuels.

The 11 surviving structures on Long Island were built between the late 1700s and early 1800s. Unlike the steel, utilitarian-style water pumping windmills used in rural areas of the south and west, these wooden mills have a graceful design that makes them an enchanting part of the scenery here, recalling to mind the windmills of Europe. Local historians say the design is of English and Western European origin, although the influence appears to be Dutch.

Following are some of the historic Long Island windmills currently open to the public:

Home Sweet Home Museum
The Pantigo Windmill
Built in 1804.
14 James Lane
East Hampton
631-324-0713
Open-Monday-Saturday 10am-4pm; Sunday- 2pm-4pm

Old Hook Mill
A windmill built by Nathaniel Dominy V in 1806.  The Hook Mill was restored to working order in 1939. Celebrated its 200th anniversary in 2006.
Montauk Highway
East Hampton
631-324-0713
Open-Monday-Friday 10am-4pm, Sunday 2pm-4pm

Beebe Windmill
This windmill was built in 1820 by Samuel Schellinger for Captain Lester Beebe.  The Beebe windmill has been moved numerous times since it has been built.  The Beebe Windmill is the only windmill in the United States that is iron-geared.
Ocean Road
Bridgehampton
631-283-6000
Call for hours

Gardiner Windmill
Also built in 1804 by Nathaniel Dominy V. Stands in its original place.
James Lane
East Hampton
Contact for hours: hking@easthamptonvillage.org

Corwith Windmill
Corwith windmill was built in the 1800s in Sag Harbor.  It was moved in 1813 to its location now.  Corwith windmill was operating until 1887.
Village Green Montauk Highway
Water Mill
631-726-5984 call for tour appointment

Shinnecock Windmill at Stony Brook Southampton College
This windmill was originally constructed in the early 1700s and moved from Southampton Village to its present location in 1890 as part of the former Claflin estate. It has been a college landmark since 1963, when the campus opened.
239 Montauk Hwy.
Southampton
Exterior viewing only.

There are several other windmills on Long Island, not open to the public. These include:

Shelter Island Windmill
Built in 1810 in Southold by Nathaniel Dominy.  This windmill was moved to Shelter Island in 1839 and moved to its current location in 1926.
North of Manwarning Road
Shelter Island, NY
Not open to public.

Old Mill at Wainscott
Main Street; built in 1813 and moved several times.
Wainscott
Not open to the public.

Gardiner’s Island Mill
Built for the Gardiner family in 1795 and rebuilt 1815. Painted white.
Gardiner’s Island-Private Island
Not open to public

Southampton Mill
Dates back to the early 1900s.
National Golf Links
Sebonac Inlet Road.
Southampton
Not open to the public.

Hayground Windmill
Built in 1801, moved in 1950.
Windmill Lane
East Hampton
Not open to the public.

 

 

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