Old Mills in the United States
E-Mail Us
Wisconsin Mills by County & Mill Names

Messer / Mayer Mill - Wisconsin

Messer - Mayer Mill Richfield Wisconsin Washington County - Before Restoration
Messer - Mayer Mill Richfield Wisconsin Washington County - After Restoration
Before Restoration
Restoration started in 1999
The above Picture is from 2004
Messer - Mayer Mill Richfield Wisconsin Washington County - Before Restoration
Built in 1871.
Messer - Mayer Mill, Richfield Wisconsin, Washington County - Before Restoration

Before Restoration

The old gristmill ranks with the rural church and country school as one of the principal institutions of the Wisconsin frontier. At one time there were some 10,000 mills in Wisconsin. Most of the little flour and feed mills that once dotted the Wisconsin countryside have vanished.

One Wisconsin writer notes that going to the mill was a day-long outing for the farmer and his family. While the men engaged in talk in the mill and perhaps a nip of the miller’s hard cider, the women engaged in women talk on the banks of the millpond. It was picnic time and a place for “sparking” and “wooing.” In the dog days of August, there was skinny-dipping in the swimming hole; when January’s chill winds blew, crude homemade sleds and skates glided over the ice.

Well hidden from the road, the Messer / Mayer Mill stood in a bramble of trees with only just a trickle of water running at its side. There was not even a trace of the old millpond. The old dam still stood but in considerable ruin.

Inside the building in cobwebs and dust, much of the old equipment remained - the old millstones used to grind wheat and rye until the 1890s and the subsequent old roller milling machines marked with the E. P. Allis Co. of Milwaukee stamp, a leading nineteenth century manufacturer of milling equipment. The elevators used to lift the grain to the top floor of the mill were still in place as were a number of sifters.

by Lois Hessenauer

Messer - Mayer Mill, Richfield Wisconsin, Washington County - After Restoration
The New Roof now has Cedar Shingles and New Siding
Today, 2012, The Entire Foundation has to be Replaced
Messer - Mayer Mill, Richfield Wisconsin, Washington County - After Restoration

After Restoration

The restoration of the Messer / Mayer Mill has been in progress since 1999 after the Village of Richfield purchased the 27 acre mill site and leased the mill and other buildings to the Historical Society for restoration.

Years of tree growth found the old mill roof penetrated in many places by tree branches. Over the years, water had also done a good deal of damage to the roof, walls and flooring.

The first order of restoration business was to tear off the old roof and completely replace it with new cedar shingles. Many of the old roofing boards also needed repair or replacement.

The old rubble stone basement walls needed repair, strengthening and in several places shoring up - a major task requiring professional help. Significant work remains to be done in the basement to clear away the dirt and stones from the old turbine still buried beneath. Recently, it was determined that the entire foundation needs to be replaced. This is an expensive project.

The siding on all four sides of the mill needed replacement. Work started on the west side of the building first, then proceeded to the north and east sides and finally the south side was finished in 2004. Along with siding replacement, every window needed to be replaced. Construction to match the old was required; and old glass was needed to replace all broken panes.

All of these steps required much behind the scenes work, and it has taken many thousands and thousands of hours from dedicated volunteers to bring us where we are today, and yet there is still so much to do.

by Lois Hessenauer

The Messer / Mayer Mill and House Site was listed on the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places on October 13, 2006. It was approved for placement on the National Register of Historic Places on May 30, 2007. Thest historic buildings became a Washington County Landmark on June 27, 2009.


Click Here for Google Map for Messer - Mayer Mill
Richfield Historical Society Website

Richfield Historical Society / Messer-Mayer Mill
4399 Pleasant Hill Road
Richfield, Wisconsin

Top of Page