The Bowens Mills Gathering Place
News Release 2002:
A new building at the old mill in Bowens Mills. "The Gathering Place", a wonderful, huge, gambrel roof building that will be "key" in the future of the Historical Park & Pioneer Farming Village.
It houses a unique gift shop and an enormous "great room" for large gatherings, musical concerts, theatrical performances, wedding receptions and festival exhibits, and the historical park will be open with regular business hours.
Owen & Carleen Sabin, second generation millers of an old 1864 working Grist & Cider Mill in Yankee Springs, came to live on the mill property after selling their farm in 1984.
Carleen's parents Neal & Marion Cook first generation millers, asked them to come to the mill and to live in the Bowen's House that had been recently purchased after coming up for foreclosure.
The house was in dire need of restoration. It had been remodeled over and over through the years. Most of the old woodwork was removed and the plaster was falling off the walls.
The Sabin's restored the house during the 13 years they lived there and purchased the house from Carleen's mother after the death of her father Neal H. Cook in 1989.
In 1997 when Marion and her new husband Ron Frye retired, Owen & Carleen decided to purchase Historic Bowens Mills and become second generation millers. Since they had dedicated so much of their lives to the mill and all of the restoration projects, there was no question in their minds what they wanted to do when the opportunity arrived.
In 1998, their first year, an artisan woodworking shop was added to the mill property. It was built out of lumber from a barn that had blown down in Grandville, MI.
In 1999 the second year, the water wheel project called "Neal's Dream" was completed with the help of the Fork River Free Trappers and many other friends and family volunteers.
After completing the water wheel project the Sabins looked forward to what they felt would be the next project. The recreation of the "muley saw mill" that was located on the mill property before the grist mill was built in 1864. The water wheel and the saw mill were taken down stream when the dam went out in 1902. After some speculation the Sabins decided that as much as they wanted to start the saw mill project, they needed to first make the historical park more "weather friendly" for their visitors.
They began to dream about what the building should be like and how big it should be. Soon they had the plans all drawn and in May of last year they began the adventure, of building "The Gathering Place", a huge and wonderful, gambrel roof building that will be "key" in the future of the Historical Park & Pioneer Farming Village.
It houses a unique gift shop and an enormous "great room" that will not only be a place for visitors on rainy days, but also be a place for large tours and school groups to enjoy video presentations before beginning their tour of the mill property. The rest of the year it will be used as a place for large gatherings, musical concerts, theatrical performances, weddings and wedding receptions and large exhibits.
"This building is an insurance policy for us," said Carleen. "Every since the first festival here years ago, we have always run the risk of bad attendance because of the weather. Now we have a place that we can gather in case that happens. We figure it will take another year to complete the project. We have the outside done and the volunteers are going to start to paint the exterior this week. We hope to have most of the inside finished by the time we start fund raising festivals in September. It will be a awesome sight for visitors when it is complete. Owen is very handy and has a way of making things look like they have always been there, and I am sure, that this building he has built, with his faithful volunteer helpers, will follow suit with the projects he has done in the past. When we finish this project we will move on to the saw mill project. We feel this building is our mark on the historical park, our own personal touch, that will be enjoyed by all who come here for a long, long time."