The Mill at Vicksburg Construction Update: Summer 2020

When we said something BIG was coming, we weren’t kidding.

Since our last construction update in May 2020, our construction teams at Frederick Construction and RAM Construction have made significant progress. And now, the future of The Mill is really beginning to take shape.

Our content partner Taylor Kallio, Owner and Videographer of Alterra Media took some time to speak with Greg Pendowski, Project Manager at Frederick Construction, and Paul Sobczak, Lead Foreman at RAM Construction about the recent construction work and the significance of revitalizing this historical landmark.

Restoring a Legacy

History of The Mill

When completed in 1905, Lee Paper Mill stood proud as Vicksburg’s largest employer, as well as one of the largest in Southwest Michigan. Between 1905 and 1958, The Mill turned fabric rags into fine writing paper, producing over 17 tons of product per day at its peak. In 1959, Lee Paper Company merged with the Simpson Timber Company of Seattle, WA—continuing to thrive into the 1960s and 70s.

Over time, changes in the paper industry made the aging Vicksburg mill less viable and production moved elsewhere. The Mill eventually closed in 2001, breaking the hearts of the Villagers for years to come. This incredible landmark was set to be torn down by wrecking ball until Chris Moore came along and saved it with a new vision and business model to resurrect this majestic building.

As Paul from RAM Construction put it,

“It’s a testament to how well they built this building back in 1905 with what information they had that these buildings are still standing. There are hundreds of places like this around the country that were just torn down. To save one is really, really special.”

Rescued & Repurposed

For over a year now, Frederick Construction has been working their way through both internal and external restoration and reconstruction at The Mill. They often bring in other teams, like Ram Construction, to support this work and keep the project progressing in a timely manner.

According to Greg, the construction teams’ most important task currently is to stabilize The Mill—ensuring it’s built to stand for centuries to come. The most important component of this external stabilization work includes the massive undertaking of restoring the 3.2 million bricks that make up The Mill. This brick restoration is the most time-consuming part of this project but also one of the most important in honoring the building’s original architecture.

Additionally, both construction crews are also replacing the old plank roof in the East wing with brand-new planks, while internally, stabilization includes continuing lead abatement, which Frederick Construction plans to complete by the end of 2020.

Additional Construction Updates

While major roof and lead abatement work has been done, there have been several other points of progress over the last few months, including:

  1. Demolition of building 6, one of the former Beater Rooms, and building 9, a former Quality Control Lab
  2. Removal of the smokestack
  3. Building a gazebo for current Mill workers to use for socially distanced lunches and breaks
  4. Opening windows in three of the former Beater Rooms (buildings E, F & 6A)

Seeing this project come together is a lot more than watching the restoration unfold before our eyes—it’s about honoring a century-long legacy and giving generations to come the opportunity to experience the majesty of The Mill, just as generations before it did.

“This is an old, old building, and to restore it to a point where we can put new businesses in it and make this village thrive is everything in the world. It’s what every construction manager would want to be a part of.” -Greg Pendowski, Project Manager, Frederick Construction

Stay tuned for future construction updates at The Mill!

Follow along on our Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date on our construction progress throughout the year, and make sure to check back on the blog for quarterly updates. More exciting things to come in the Fall!

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