In 1796, Greenwich was, in part, a farming community. Our farms sent their produce to New York City via regular packet boats that left from a dock just below the Greenwich Historical Society’s Bush Holley House on Strickland Road in Cos Cob. If you were a farmer in North Greenwich, and liked your daily bread, you had to make a long trip down to the mill in Byram to have your grain ground into flour.
Sylvanus Selleck got fed up with the trip and decided to build his own gristmill just east of Round Hill Road on his 47-acre farm in what is known today as backcountry Greenwich. Not only would he get flour for his family, but he’d get paid for providing a valuable service to the neighboring farmers in North Greenwich.
A gristmill was a major undertaking. It had to be sturdy enough to survive the daily grind and therefore was built out of large chestnut and oak timbers. You also had to build a dam to have a steady supply of water. Through a couple of land owners and operators, the mill received some much needed updates through the years and continued to grind wheat, corn, oats, and rye for decades.
Last operated in 1895, the Selleck Gristmill is still in place, located behind a fence on the eponymous Old Mill Road. In its heyday, there were hundreds of mills across Connecticut; many built on the post and beam model of this mill with heavy braces in the thick framing, to stand up to the constant vibration of thousands of pounds of grinding millstones.
Sylvanus Selleck gristmill is one of only two surviving 18th Century mills in Connecticut and it needs help. The roof leaks, the back wall of the 1860 dormer was damaged in Hurricane Ida and old age is creeping into everything.
To raise funds and restore this iconic piece of backcountry history, a group of friends, neighbors and community members have formed the “Friends of the Selleck Mill” including members of The Greenwich Historical Society, The Round Hill Association, and the Greenwich Land Trust. Click on this link to donate and find out more about the Gristmill in a video from Aleander Stuebe, a student at the King School.