Georgia Magazine - October 2011 - (Page 28)

Preserving historic Prater’s Mill Old mill continues traditions of the past BY ROBERT SORRELL S ince 1971, organizers in Dalton have thrown a giant country fair on the second weekend of October (this year, Oct. 8-9) to celebrate the life and history of Prater’s Mill. There’s good old-fashioned country food, dancing, music, traditional activities and fun for the entire family. All of the festival’s proceeds go to the preservation of the historic mill on Coahulla Creek. Annually, in preparation for the fair, volunteers from the community bring the old mill to life, just like their great-great-grandparents did long ago. “Keeping a water-powered gristmill in operation means constant repairs and maintenance,” says Judy Alderman, president of the Prater’s Mill Foundation. “It’s a labor of love and sheer delight to see the old mill grind corn just like it did more than 150 years ago.” Historically speaking, the mill is quite extraordinary. “There’s a lot of history here,” Alderman observes. “It’s our job to keep it alive and to continue the mill’s legacy.” Following the 1832 Cherokee land lottery, when native land was divided for the white settlers, Indians continued to roam the land in the area where the mill would later be constructed. One property, land lot 231, Prater’s Mill, was drawn by Thomas Foster of Richmond County as a result of the lottery. Prater’s Mill was finally completed on Coahulla Creek in 1855. Thereafter, farmers would line up as far as the eye could see to have their corn ground into meal. The Civil War brought trouble to the mill. Throughout the war, both Union and Confederate troops occupied the property, but never at the ★ Dalton • • Above Above: “The Mill Doctor,” John Lovett, right, Melanie Chapman and Sherry Sexton, bottom left, raise the top stone. Left: Lovett checks the millstones for evenness. PRATER’S MILL FOUNDATION same time. Following the occupation, until the 1960s, several millers came and went. It stayed in the Prater family until 1954. Then finally in 1969, Lester Terrell, the last miller, closed the mill. Two years later, in an effort to preserve the old gristmill, local volunteers launched the Prater’s Mill Country Fair. Their goal was to raise funds to support the building’s restoration More online at efforts, which continue today. Prater’s Mill is protected by numerous national organizations, including the National Register of Historic Places, the Library of Commerce and local historic preservation groups, including the Prater’s Mill Foundation. In 2010, the property was deeded to the Whitfield County government, which allows the Foundation to operate the facility. The mill has undergone extensive restoration, both regularly scheduled checkups and cleanups, as well as physically altering projects. In 1995, an arson fire caused substantial damage to the structure, GEORGIA MAGAZINE 28 PRATER’S MILL FOUNDATION

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Georgia Magazine - October 2011

Georgia Magazine - October 2011
Picture This?
Georgia News
Calendar of Events
Georgia's Energy Outlook
Naturally Florida
Florida Destinations
2011 Reader's Choice Awards
Other Top Picks in Our Readers’ Choice Contest
Around Georgia
My Georgia
Georgia Gardens
Georgia Cooks
More Snapshot Submissions
Gardens Plant of the Month; Liberty Notes
More on Georgia’s Energy Outlook
Energy-Efficiency Tips
More Great Recipes

Georgia Magazine - October 2011