The Old Mill at T.R. Pugh Memorial Park serves as both an historical recreation of a 19th century water-powered grist (grain) mill and a park known for its charming setting on Lakewood Lake #2. With stunning scenery, the park has become a local favorite for photography. The two-story mill, featuring a five-ton water wheel, was the backdrop for the opening scenes of the movie Gone With The Wind. The initial site plan was conceived by prominent real estate businessman Justin Matthews, who is known for his contributions to the development of Park Hill and other neighborhoods in the North Little Rock and Sherwood area. Much of the sculpture was created by noted artist Dionicio Rodriguez in 1932.
The "Old Mill"
The Historic site of the "Old Mill." Encyclopedia of Arkansas.
The Old Mill at T.R. Pugh Memorial Park. North Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Backstory and Context
Justin Matthews hired distinguished Mexican architect and sculptor Dionicio Rodriguez in 1932 to make the "Old Mill" an attraction to get people interested in moving into the newly created subdivisions nearby in the Park Hill neighborhood.1 Architect Frank Carmine was tasked with organizing the layout for the old mill building.2 Rodriguez is famous for his Faux Bois (false wood) style of construction, using concrete to simulate wood and other building materials.3 The mill's shape was modeled on common early Arkansas mill designs from the 1800s, and is meant to appear abandoned and weathered.1 Though the building appears neglected, it was built with a durable concrete and steel structure. The City of North Little Rock received the park as a gift from Justin Matthews affiliates May 24, 1976.4 T.R. Pugh Memorial Park was originally Pugh's Mill, named after a personal friend of Matthews, Thomas R. Pugh. The park was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.5 Thirty minute guided tours of the park are available upon request.
Authentic structures located on the five acre site include the following: large millstones dating from 1823-1840; the iron gristmill on the first floor, from 1828, collected from the Cagle family of Pope County, Arkansas; iron scraps from an Arkansas River steamboat located inside the mill; original milestone markers from a road partially designed by Jefferson Davis, now part of the Trail of Tears National Historic Trail, located on the grounds.1
The wood framework inside the building, the giant water wheel, and all woodwork outside are sculpted concrete compositions of Dionicio Rodriguez. More of his faux bois works of art nearby include a large toadstool-shaped covered bench, a flower basket, and a unique hollow tree house, all located at the park on Lakewood Lake #3.
1. Encyclopedia of Arkansas
2. Arkansas listings in the National Register
3. Encyclopedia of Arkansas
4. North Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau
5. National Park Service