Sylvester Manor Windmill with blades and sails in 1952 – photo by Andrew Fiske. 

Sylvester Manor Windmill, April 26, 2021





     History:  The Sylvester Manor windmill was originally built in Southold in 1810 by the renowned carpenter and millwright, Nathaniel Dominy V (1770-1852). As a fifth generation craftsman, Dominy worked on both the North and South Forks and had gained his reputation as a Master Carpenter after building the Hook Mill in East Hampton in 1806. The Sylvester Manor Mill was commissioned by partners Benjamin Horton, Moses Cleveland, Joseph Hallock and Barnabas Case several years later and originally operated in Southold grinding bushels of wheat, corn, rye and meslin.

     In 1840 the mill was purchased by Joseph Congdon and moved to Shelter Island where it stood in the center of town near the present library. The new mill replaced a previous Shelter Island mill that had burned down years earlier. In 1855, the windmill was sold again to Smith Baldwin who continued to operate it until the 1870s. In 1879, Lilian Horsford, a descendant of the original Sylvester family, bought the mill to preserve it as an historic landmark.

     The windmill resumed operation during World War I to help provide meal and flour to the inhabitants of Shelter Island at a time of severe food shortages. Cornelia Horsford, the youngest sister of Lilian, purchased the windmill from her in 1926 and had it moved to the highest elevation of Sylvester Manor, where it sits today. In 1952, Sylvester Manor owner Andrew Fiske renovated the windmill replacing the shingles and main driveshaft.


Restoration Phases

 Restoration Phases: Phases 1 & 2 were completed over the past two years. Phase 1 included stabilizing the foundation by lifting the 6,000 pound structure six feet from its resting place for the first time in nearly 100 years in order to rebuild the foundation. New piers were poured and strapped to the undermounts. Phase 2 focused on the exterior — replacing eroded shingles and installing new doors and windows. Phase 3 was completed in 2021 by Master Craftsman Jim Kricker and his team of millwrights with the installation of a new windshaft and new blades.

“What we are doing here is removing the old windshaft first and then we will remove the old neck bearing. We will explore the beam under the neck bearing and are prepard to replace it if need be. Once that is done, the new windshaft goes in. The sails are made up of 6 pieces total. The backbone is made up of stocks. Two pieces go through the mortices of the windshaft to form a cross. The whips are the remaining 4 pieces that have lattice attached. Once assembled, they will be bolted to the stocks. Then, we will have an intact windmill, without the cloths.” — James Kricker, December, 2020. 

Phase 4 includes bringing the windmill back to operational condition in 2021. This will address the mechanical parts of the windmill and related structural issues associated with supporting, aligning and operating the machinery.


 Restoration Portfolio


First Floor showing the central vertical post that supports the main vertical shaft, the bottoms of the bed stones and the flyball governors (the iron contraptions on either side of the photo). These regulate the grinding process by controlling the space between the bed stone and the runner stone and hence the speed of the mill. (Captions courtesy of Master Craftsman James Kricker)

1ST FLOOR, this is another view of the shaft and gears used to turn the cap of the mill.

1ST FLOOR, in this view the vertical shaft with the mortises in it is part of the mechanism that is used to manually turn the cap so that the sails face into the wind. 
STAIRS LEADING TO 1ST FLOOR The wear on the treads is the result of many thousands of pounds of grain being carried up the stairs by hand in heavy sacks. 
The second floor showing bracing and portions of two of the eight cant posts.
2ND FLOOR, this is a view of the stone floor showing one of the stone nuts (the small lantern pinion gear on the left) the spur gear, some of the stone furniture and the stone crane. 
2ND FLOOR, this is a view of one of the two stone nuts, the iron spindle that the stone nut is mounted on, the hopper, the horse (frame work supporting the hopper) and the stone case or tun (the wood work enclosing one of the sets of stones). 
3RD FLOOR, showing the windshaft, brake wheel, and vertical shaft with the wallower (a lantern pinion gear) mounted on it. The horizontal beam above the wallower is called the spraddle beam. It supports the bearing for the top of the vertical shaft. 
3RD FLOOR, main vertical shaft looking down into second floor (stone floor) showing
drive gear for the bolter 
3RD FLOOR – WINDSHAFT, brakewheel and brake band
VIEW NORTH,  from the back hatch in the cap on the third floor. When the mill is in use this will not always be looking North since the cap is turned to face the sails into the wind. OVERLOOKING SYLVESTER MANOR FARM 
Copy courtesy of Sylvester Manor Farm & James Kricker.
Photographs, except archival & photos below, © Jeff Heatley.


———————— ADDENDUM ————————  

The wood for the shaft was greenheart from Ghana.

“The crew went into the bush four separate times to get a log large enough for the axle. Even in the tropical rainforest, finding a tree that large (minimum 36” at 20’) in the species we need is a tough nut to crack. Greenheart is a large tree at breast height with a 36” diameter, and purpleheart even more so.”  — James Kricker.



# 8: 1810 Dominy Windmill /

Sylvester Manor Windmill