POST # 28: THE GURLEY-MASON MILL, MANSFIELD FOUR CORNERS.
We last examined the lost buildings at the intersection of what is now Route 44 and Route 195. Now we travel up Route 44 to Old Turnpike Road, originally a part of the Middle Turnpike that was re-routed. By the bridge over the Fenton River, there was once a large mill complex, consisting of a saw and grist mill on the north side of the bridge and a blacksmith shop located across the road.
Zebulon Gurley probably built the sawmill sometime between 1776 and 1778. After a succession of three other owners, the Mason family purchased the sawmill in 1864 and then added a gristmill to the property. Brothers Frank and Charles operated the mills while their father, John Chauncey Mason farmed across the Turnpike. Charles later built a blacksmith shop across the road, a safe distance away from the flammable sawdust and chaff produced by the mills.
The Masons ran a successful business at this site, offering a wide array of services to the local residents. They ground grain, sawed logs into boards, made shingles, and also built and repaired chairs, sleds, wagons and more. At the blacksmith shop, they produced various parts and also rims for wagon wheels.
After the deaths of Frank and Charles Mason in 1928 and 1929 respectively, Charles’ sons-in-laws Hibbard Parker and Henry Knowlton operated the mills sporadically during the 1930s. Afterwards, the mill buildings fell into disrepair and were demolished in the mid-1960s. The blacksmith shop suffered a similar fate and was torn down in 1975. Today just the foundations of these buildings remain and the property is now owned by Joshua’s Tract Conservation and Historic Trust.
Mason’s Saw and Grist Mill, late nineteenth century