Where can Gwinnett’s kids go to see that groceries didn’t always come from the local grocery store? At Gwinnett County Parks & Recreation’s Freeman’s Mill Park, kids will get the opportunity to play among history.
This newest park along the banks of the Alcovy River includes a unique playground that replicates a gristmill, picnic pavilion, half-mile multi-purpose trail, parking and restroom facilities as well as the historic Freeman’s grist mill.
The mill was built sometime between 1868 and 1879 by brothers John Griffin Loveless and Levi J. Loveless. In 1913 W. Scott Freeman and his son, Winfield, owned it until it was purchased in 1915 by Newt Pharr. Winfield descendants continued to operate the mill through the twentieth century. In the late 1990’s the mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places for its significance in architecture, engineering, industry, and social history. As of 1996, the mill was the only working grist mill remaining in Gwinnett County.
Freeman’s Mill played an important role in the local community in early Gwinnett County. Local farmers would bring their wheat and corn to the miller to be turned into flour and meal. Alcova Baptist Church, located up the street from the mill, used the mill pond for baptisms and the millhouse itself, provided a gathering place for the surrounding rural community. The water powered grist mill was preferred by many farmers because it would grind the corn more slowly than electric mills, resulting in a sweeter taste.
The mill changed hands several times over the years until Gwinnett County purchased the mill and surrounding property in 2002 with funding available from the Georgia Greenspace Program and the 2005 SPLOST. In 2009, the county raised and restored the mill and surrounding 12 acres for educational and recreational use offering Gwinnett County citizens a sense of the agricultural past.
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) 822-5178.