Sandwich Windmill
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Old Mills in the United States

Sandwich Windmill - Cape Cod
Sandwich Windmill, Heritage Plantation, Sandwich Massachusetts

Built in 1800 from the left over pine and oak wood from a church expansion, Sandwich Mill originally known as the Old East Mill, was constructed on the top of Snow’s Hill in Orleans. The road to the original mill site is now called Great Oak Road. Five men labored, financed and built the Old East Mill. William Knowles, Samuel Smith, Edward Jarvais, John Freeman and Isaac Snow became the leaders of the town naming it Orleans.

January 4, 1811 the windmill was sold for $83.31. Isaac Snow continued as the miller. His wife was related to the new owner Deacon Abner Freeman.

In 1819, Old East Mill was moved to a hill overlooking the Meeting House pond. It was taken apart piece by piece, hauled by ox and wagon and reassembled. The new owner was Reverend Daniel Johnson. This new location for the mill was economically advantageous in two major ways. First the new location placed the mill closer to the fields of grain for processing. Secondly, the mill now had easy access to the ocean ports for transportation of the processed grains to Boston, New York and Connecticut markets.

After the mill’s relocation, Isaac Snow remained as miller. He lived in a house at Pochet and Barley Neck Roads. In addition to milling, Isaac Snow was a cobbler and served in the Revolutionary War. Old East Mill ground corn, rye and barley while it was operated by the skilled miller Isaac Snow. He also incorporated grinding salt. Isaac Snow retired with a veteran’s pension from the Revolutionary War.

In 1828, Isaac Sparrow bought the mill. For 38 years Sparrow was the miller at Old East Mill until after the Civil War. The seafaring Captain Joseph Taylor purchased the mill in 1866. The mill continued to produce ground corn, barley and rye until 1893. Captain Taylor stopped production because he could not meet the market’s lower price. Upon Captain Taylor’s death, the mill was sold to John M. Gundry. John Gundry attempted to restore the mill but in 1938 it was severely damaged by a hurricane. Old East Mill lost its arms at the windshaft.

Charles M. Campbell purchased and moved the mill to Pleasant Bay in 1957. He meticulously restored the mill in 1962-63 preserving the stones, shafts, gears and all original equipment. In 1968 Charles Campbell suggested that the Heritage Plantation purchase the mill and place it on their property in Sandwich. Subsequently the Heritage Plantation had Robert Hayden of Cotuit broke the mill down into four pieces and they moved it from Orleans to Sandwich. The windmill traveled on Route 6A then Mid-Cape Highway. It took ten days to make the move. The fall of 1968 Robert Hayden rebuilt the Old East Mill at its present location at Heritage Plantation.

Today the windmill has beautiful masts and is exceptionally maintained. The arms are no longer used to power the millstones but the stones are moving with electric power. The mill is open to the public from May 1 through the middle of October. They grind corn during their open hours.

The Old East Mill of Sandwich stands as one of the great historical structures at Heritage Plantation today. The structure’s masts are covered with cloth in the accompanying photograph. This replicates how the sails would catch the wind and then turn the windshaft powering the grinding stones. It is an octagonal shaped building with a round cap for the roof. The cap has a headroom that houses the windshaft as it enters the round roof. The tailpole is in place and displays a wagon wheel that is used to move the mobile round roof around so that the masts can catch the wind no matter what direction it is blowing.

This windmill is remarkable and is worth a visit while on the Cape. Call ahead of time to make sure the curator or miller is on duty to be able to interpret the interior mechanisms of the windmill.

Sandwich Windmill - With Mast on all Four Arms
Sandwich Windmill - With Mast on all Four Arms
Sandwich Windmill - Canvas on the Arms, Tail Piece
Exterior of Sandwich WindMill
Without wooden wheel at the end of the tail piece.
Sandwich Windmill - Interior, Bull Wheel, Wooden Toothed Gears, Drive Shaft, Spindle
The bull wheel is the large wooden-toothed gear at the top in this photo. The bull wheel's energy is channeled from the windshaft by cogs and/or gears. Then the enertia goes to the drive shaft aka spindle directly to the mill stones. View labels below.
Sandwich Windmill - Interior, Bull Wheel, Wooden Toothed Gears, Drive Shaft, Spindle
Sandwich Windmill - Interior
Interior Mill & Equipment
Sandwich Windmill - Interior
Interior Mill and Milling Equipment
Sandwich Windmill - Miller
Miller / Volunteer
Sandwich Windmill - Tail Piece and Wooden Wheel
Tail Piece and Wheel
The miller moves the wheel with the tail piece in the circle around the windmill. The tail is attached inside the cap of the windmill to the windshaft which supports the arms. The miller positions the arms directly into the wind. Here at Sandwich Windmill is a wonderful example of how the mast is furled up to catch the wind. The millers on Cape Cod were very often seaman who knew how to set the sails in their boats. When they became millers, one of their many skills were used to climb out on each arm and furl or unfurl each arm. Sometimes they would only tie up half an arm if the wind was too strong. The canvas/masts were only tied on the arms when they were going to grind. As soon as they were done with the day, the miller would climb up on the arms and roll up the canvas mast.
Sandwich Windmill - From a window inside the windmill
From a window in the Sandwich Windmill
Sandwich Windmill - Interior, Mill Stone at Entrance
Mill Stone Display - Used as the first step into the mill.
Click Here for Google Map to see The Heritage Plantation
The Sandwich Windmill is easily identifiable directly east of the large-white, round building.

Hours: Seasonal. Contact Heritage Plantation at 508-888-3300 for hours.

Heritage Plantation of Sandwich / Heritage Museum & Gardens
April through October Monday through Sunday 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
July and August only - Wednesday 10:00 am - 8:99 pm

Address: 67 Grove Street, Sandwich, MA 02563

Amaral, Theodore F. "The Old East Mill at Heritage Plantation." Old Mill News Vol.II, No. 1. Jan 1974
Beals, Fred. Windmill List. Society for the Preservation of Old Mills. Mishawaka IN. 2002.
Burrows, Fredrika A. Windmills on Cape Cod and the Islands Tauton, MA: William S. Sullwold Publishing, Inc, 1978. 46-49.
Cape Cod. Map. Rand McNally, 2000.
"The Old East Mill." Sandwich MA: Heritage Plantation of Sandwich. 1996