Stone Mill Museum Historical Marker Dedication
On July 4th the public is invited to celebrate the dedication of a historical marker at the Stone Mill Museum in Sandwich (315 E. Railroad Street, Sandwich) from 3 PM. After months of research, the Illinois State Historical Society is proud to recognize the Sandwich Historical Society’s home with one of their prestigious plaques.
In 1852, Sandwich pioneer William Patten returned from the gold fields of California with $2,000, a fortune at the time. With the coming of the railroad in 1853, his son, Robert Patten, a carpenter, built the town’s first lumberyard and steam gristmill, completed in 1856. Investment from his father and land donated by Sandwich founder Almon Gage, made this possible. The Sandwich Steam Gristmill produced 100 bags of flour each day making it a vital part of community life. In 1871, one of Patten’s partners absconded with funds and left the business and Patten in great debt. The Robert Patten family left for Kansas, and the business continued under new ownership.
The three-story limestone building was equipped with a 65 horsepower (80 hp in 1891) steam engine in the basement that could power three sets of grinding stones and seven roller mills. The upper floors housed bins, centrifugal reels, separators, purifier, dust collector, and storage bins. In 1879, a local newspaper reported flour production as high as 500 bags being shipped as far as Glasgow, Scotland.
The mill closed in 1892 and the machinery removed. Twice in 1902 someone tried to burn the building. It has since been uses as a machine shop, a farm equipment parts manufacturer, and for storage. In 1964, James Knight donated the building to the Sandwich Historical Society for a museum, which opened in 1969 and will continue to safeguard the legacy of Sandwich, Illinois.