by Ginger Graham
While the external work on the new construction is highly visible, there is also a LOT of work going on inside the old Feed Mill that is not. And it isn't always pretty.
The basement of the old Mill at 359 Linden Street was full of equipment, old infrastructure, dirt and a surprise – molasses! Come to find out, molasses is not unusual in old feed mills. Grain-based feeds for cattle, pigs and horses are often mixed with molasses and in our Mill, it was stored down in the basement in a large concrete molasses pit.
Our plans for the renovation include creating a cozy, private dining space within the basement, preserving the original structural posts and stone foundation walls while adding a recessed stone floor and extensive wine cellar. So... the molasses pit had to go!
What we didn’t know was that the layer of dirt on top of the pit masked a good quantity of still-sticky, gooey, leftover molasses within. The first time workers stepped into the pit, they sunk down into molasses. Soon, they were covered head-to-toe in dark, viscous molasses. It ruined clothing, tools, equipment and everyone’s week. They spent days removing the walls and floor… all covered with goo.
A conveyer belt was inserted through a hole in the foundation wall and broken concrete pieces were loaded onto the belt and removed from the building. The entire excavation of the basement yielded a huge pile of rubble that had to be removed one molasses-covered piece at a time. You could even see remnants of molasses outside on the sidewalk as everyone’s shoes bore traces of the basement surprise.
We love having the basement as a lasting piece of history, and with the help of Dohn Construction workers, we will all be able to enjoy the space!