Lanterman's Mill stands on over two centuries of early Ohio history. The original mill built along what is now known as Mill Creek ran from 1799 to 1822, and was constructed by the surveyors appointed by John Young, the founder of Youngstown, Ohio. It was replaced by a second mill built in 1823. This structure was built and operated by Eli Baldwin until 1843 when a flood completely destroyed it. Today, the original frame of Lanterman's Mill, built by German Lanterman and Samuel Kimberly in 1845-46, is still in place, though the rest was restored in 1982-85. Lanterman's Mill continues to run as it had in the mid 19th century grinding wheat and corn with water-power. It is a breathtaking example of early Youngstown industry.
John Young traveled to
Ohio in the late eighteenth century with his family. He purchased 15,000 acres
of land from the United States Government for approximately $16,000 in 1797.
That same year, Young sent Isaac Powers and Phineas Hill to survey his massive
property. They came upon a creek and falls and acknowledged that the area had
great potential. Both in agreement, they approached Young with the offer to buy
the 300 acres surrounding the falls. Young agreed, however, he stated that the
only condition was that the two had to build a saw-and gristmill on the site
within a year and a half of purchase. The deal was finalized and the two
surveyors began construction of the mill.
The first mill was opened
in 1799 and built from logs and millstone that were created from materials
found surrounding the site. It stopped operating in 1822 and was replaced by a
second mill in 1823. The second mill was constructed by Eli Baldwin and
operated only as a gristmill until a flood destroyed the structure in
1843. Today, a grinding stone from Baldwin’s mill is still visible along
From 1845-46 German
Lanterman and his brother-in-law, Samuel Kimberly, built a third mill near the
falls and it’s structure is still used as the framework of Lanterman’s Mill
today. This mill also operated as a gristmill that was initially powered by an
overshot wheel and then converted to turbine power several years later. Despite
the success of Lanterman’s Mill it closed in 1888, and historians believe this
is because roller mills became more common and were less expensive to operate.
Years after Lanterman’s
Mill closed the structure began to deteriorate. However, in 1892 it was
purchased by Mill creek Park and was repaired to serve as a ballroom,
concession stand, storage, and bathhouse for swimmers. The mill ran as a park
facility until the first floor was transformed into a nature museum in 1933,
and then changed again into a history museum 39 years later. In 1976
Lanterman’s Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places by the
United States Department of the Interior.
In 1982 the renovation of
the mill began. The Mill Creek Park Foundation received a $600,000 grant from the
Florence and Ward Beecher Foundation to fund the project. In order to mimic how
it would have looked and operated in the nineteenth century Dr. John White from
Youngstown State University organized an archaeological dig to recover artifacts
and prove that an early water wheel had existed. In addition, Lorin Cameron and
his sons were hired for their expertise in gristmill renovations. Along with total
improvement of the building antique machinery was purchased and installed.
Today, visitors can view how Lanterman’s mill became so successful and learn
early Ohio history.