Old Red Mill
Photograph courtesy of Alan H. Weiss

  Old Red Mill
Photograph by John R. Axtell

South Northfield, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was a thriving center of water-powered industry. Remarkably, the Old Red Mill is the only building to remain from that period of Northfield's history. It is an unusually intact example of a metal turbine-powered steel roller gristmill and its machinery. When the building was constructed in 1898, it functioned as a gristmill and feed store. The simple one and a half story clapboard structure featured a cupola-like tower projecting from the south gable end. This tower, necessary to accommodate the milling machinery, is an example of a building's function influencing its design, a characteristic of many industrial buildings.

The mill was advantageously located at the site of the northernmost falls in the village. Able to draw on the power of the Dog River's Sunny Brook branch, the site had been used since the early 1800s for small manufacturing. Before the gristmill, a chair factory occupied the site (which burned in 1896) and an even earlier mill produced wood and slate saws and shingles. In the 1930s a water-powered cider press was added to the mill's operations. The Kempton family purchased the Old Red Mill at auction in 1944. They continued to grind grain and make shingles until the mid-1940s, when the market for these products declined largely because of changes in agricultural and transportation patterns. However, they did continue to produce their popular Kempton's cider for several years.

The Old Red Mill is located on Rt. 12 in South Northfield at the intersection of Lover's Ln. It is private property, and not open to the public.

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