188 County Road 236 near Summerfield Road/CR-37
Saturday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Kenan’s Mill remains one of the most interesting historic sites in Dallas County. Restored in time for Kenan’s Mill Days of Pilgrimage 2002, the first bag of corn was ground into meal on March 16 of that year. Water again spills over the dam and extensive landscaping by the Master Gardeners has restored the area to its native beauty.
Kenan’s Mill awakens once more during Pilgrimage in a celebration of everyday life more than a century ago. High on the wooded bank, suspended over rushing brown waters of Valley Creek, the old mill stands. Weather-worn boards, still bearing marks of a craftsman’s tools, still staunch in protection of the mill stones and empty bins within. And on the wide-planked floor, an occasionally shaft of sunlight dances fitfully, withdrawing through cracks between the silvery lathes. Only the lapping of swift-rushing waters against crumbling brick walls below breaks the silence of years. And echoes whisper of days that are no more, of a lifestyle now history.
The circa 1860’s gristmill and its property was donated in 1997 by Elizabeth Kenan Buchanan to the Selma-Dallas County Historic Preservation Society. The mill has been restored to operating order as a living-history museum, and souvenir bags of stone-ground cornmeal and grits are offered for sale.
As use of local gristmills declined, the mill survived by serving local grocers, and a miller lived in the residence until 1968. The mill property also once served as a water park. In 1904, Owen Kenan made improvements to the mill and added a swimming pool, dance floor and picnic island. But a flood in 1939 destroyed the buildings and the island.
When the enormous water-powered stones of the gristmill start up again for Pilgrimage, the 48-inch grist stones will turn as the gates are raised to let Valley Creek course through the tunnel under the mill and reach the turbine. The stones of the mill are the original millstones and were sharpened during restoration. Running at top speed, the mill could grind a ton of meal. However, the mill will run slowly so that visitors may watch the process.
This Pilgrimage stop features three interesting structures: the mill, millhouse and a charcoal kiln. Visitors can also cross Valley Creek on a swinging bridge and see the beehive kiln. Tour the mill house and view the wonderful kitchen garden before exploring the antique farm implements. The mill will be operating and freshly-ground corn meal and grits will be sold daily. Also of interest are the new red barn in which public restrooms are located and the bandstand.
Kenan’s Mill is located about a mile north of U.S. Highway 80 (Highland Avenue) just off County Road 37 (Summerfield Road). A tour is available from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm on Saturday only for $5 per person or is included in the Pilgrimage Package Ticket.