Refurbished mills offer an edge in the age of social distancing: space


Before Finley Farms’ Ozark factory in Ozark, Missouri reopened in the fall with a farm-to-table riverside restaurant and general store, its foundation had to be raised and strengthened. to mitigate the risk of flooding, said site developer Megan Stack. The mill, on a 40-acre property, was built in 1833 and retired in 1992 as the last commercially operating water mill in Missouri. Bass Pro Shops founder and Ms Stack’s father Johnny Morris led the project, which also includes a cafe, chapel, organic farm, and historic truss bridge used for events.

Despite the challenges, developers are always looking for new opportunities to transform these buildings. Mr Tufaro now has his eye on a former 1916 flour mill 12 miles west of Baltimore in Ellicott City, Md., Which he hopes to start redeveloping in the first half of next year with 190 apartments , a restaurant overlooking the Patapsco River, a historical museum, shops and possibly a brewery.

As the mills gain more attention, some have become tourist attractions for those interested in their evolution. John Nolan, owner of Greenville History Tours, took six to eight people a week to tour 10 old textile factories that have been converted into lofts, art centers and climbing facilities.

“Textiles used to be a big industry, so I think there is a curiosity to know more about what it looked like,” Mr. Nolan said. “It’s part of the Americana and something to remember.”

Mr. Nolan and others note that factory workers often lived in houses surrounding the factory, forming tight-knit communities. This story prompts people to revive buildings as a social center.

This is certainly the case with the Ozark Mill at Finley Farms. Plans for the site include a brewery, sweatshop, self-guided historical tour, and overnight accommodations.

“The authenticity and natural beauty of the area and of the Finley River will continue to draw people here,” said Ms. Stack. “Long-standing generations in the Ozark have memories of the mill.”


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