Freeman’s Mill Park won the Excellence in Restoration from The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation. The award was presented at the 34th annual Preservation Awards ceremony in Macon on April 1.
“This year’s winners represent a tremendous dedication to restoring and revitalizing Georgia’s historic buildings and communities,” said Mark C. McDonald, president of The Georgia Trust. “We are proud to honor such deserving projects.”
Gwinnett County Parks and Recreation embarked on a preservation plan and subsequent rehabilitation of the historic Freeman’s Mill, located in the new Freeman’s Mill Park. The structure is an excellent example of a typical rural gristmill that would have been found along rivers throughout Georgia in the mid-19th century. The Freeman family continued to grind mill until it was closed in 1986, and, despite some alterations, it has retained the majority of its original features including, the mill wheel, gears, drive shafts and belts. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.
In 2002, the County received funds through the Georgia Greenspace Program to purchase the mill and 11 acres for educational and recreational use offering Gwinnett County citizens a sense of the agricultural past. Additional funding came from a 2005 Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The County recognized the historical significance of this landmark and was committed to preserving it for future generations. Consultants were hired to produce a Preservation Plan and the subsequent architectural work to guide the proper treatment of the mill.
The first phase of park construction raised the historic mill 5 feet to get it above the regulated floodplain. Construction also included a new foundation and retaining wall, restoration of the water wheel and windows, a new roof, and repair to the siding and doors.
Today, the mill is completely stabilized and will stand for years to come as an important vernacular resource that tells an important story about the industrial history of Gwinnett County. Freeman’s Mill Park opened to the public in December 2009.
For more than 30 years, the Trust has recognized preservation projects and individuals in the state who have made significant contributions to the field of historic preservation. Awards are presented on the bases of the contributions of the person or project to the community and/or state on compliance to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties.
Freeman’s Mill Park is located at 1401 Alcovy Road in Lawrenceville. Park hours are sunrise to sunset. For more information, visit www.gwinnettparks.com or call (770) 822-8840.