By Elise Franco
Lanterman’s Mill operates now as it did more than a century ago, thanks to a $600,000 restoration grant given to the Mill Creek MetroParks 25 years ago.
With its hand-crafted structure and rushing waterfall, the mill, built in 1845, is a gem that many say is worth going back to again and again.
Tom Bresko, park interim executive director, said the 25th anniversary of the mill’s restoration is a nod to how locals feel about their history.
“It is symbolic of what can be done with grant money and other people’s money, so that this thing stands today grinding as it did in the middle 1800s,” he said. “I think it’s important to preserve these kinds of treasures, and I think it’s a testament to what a community can feel is important to maintain.
“It could have been just let go enough so that it would have been impossible to renovate.”
The renovation began in 1982 after the Florence and Ward Beecher foundations gave the Mill Creek Park Foundation a $600,000 grant, said Bob Orr, mill manager.
Orr said the money was used to replace the siding and roof, build walkways and buy and build the machinery needed to operate the mill, including a four-ton water wheel that powers operations inside.
“It really takes vision on the part of the park directors to preserve this place,” he said. “It’s a part of history, and they understand that without that, the mill will fall apart.”
Last year, a crew from Ridge Machine and Welding Co. in Toronto, Ohio, replaced two immense gears at the facility. Cost of that project was about $25,000 including the casting of the parts, which also came from the Mill Creek Park Foundation, a private donor fund established for capital expenditures.
Jim Stahara, of Youngstown, visited the mill Thursday morning with his wife Karen, grandson Jake Stewart, 11, and nephew Michael McGregor, 10.
Jim Stahara said he’s been coming into the mill for years.
“I love the ambiance of it,” he said. “It’s definitely something you don’t see every day, especially in your own back yard.”
Karen Stahara said she first came to the mill with her husband.
“The first time he brought me here I was in awe of the whole thing,” she said.
Jim said before stopping by the mill Thursday, the family ate a breakfast of buckwheat pancakes using flower that was ground at Lanterman’s.
“They were delicious,” he said.
Bresko and Orr both said their biggest hope is that 25 years from now, the mill will still be running, and families will still be absorbing its history.
“It may seem like kind of a small thing,” Bresko said, “But we want to see that mill operating the same 25 years from now as it is today.”