The Wayside Inn Grist Mill is the first working mill to be built as a museum. Commissioned by Henry Ford and designed by renowned hydraulic engineer J.B. Campbell of Philadelphia, work on the Mill began in 1924 by local workmen preparing the waterway from Grist Mill Pond. Built in the style of mills that operated in the Delaware Valley of Pennsylvania and in the Midlands area of England, the mill operates with millstones imported from France and high-quality 18th century milling machinery purchased by Ford’s antiques buyers.
The Mill ground its first grain on Thanksgiving Day 1929 with local miller Erwin Smith of Hopkinton turning the iron wheel to open the floodgates and set the millstones into operation. For many years, the Mill produced corn, wheat, and rye for the Inn and the Wayside Inn Boys School that Ford operated on the property. When Henry Ford died in 1947, the Mill ceased operations and Ford family representatives began selling off the land he had accumulated until the Wayside Inn property was back to its original 125-acre parcel.
In 1952, the Mill began full operations again. Under a lease arrangement with the Inn, Pepperidge Farm provided a full-time Miller to produce stone-ground whole wheat flour for the company’s products. The Wayside Inn Grist Mill shipped out its entire output to Pepperidge Farm plants: 48 tons of whole wheat flour a month—approximately 9,000 tons of whole wheat flour during the 15 years of the lease arrangement. As a Pepperidge Farm employee, the Miller operated and maintained the Mill, provided educational tours to thousands of visitors, and promoted Pepperidge Farm products which were on display in the Mill. When the Inn re-opened in June 1958 after a devastating fire and thorough restoration, Margaret Rudkin, a friend and neighbor of one of the leading preservationists, provided Pepperidge Farm cookies as dessert to the dining dignitaries. Pepperidge Farm ceased its production at the Wayside Inn Grist Mill in 1967 after 15 years of a harmonious working relationship that benefited both the Inn and Pepperidge Farm.
The Mill produced flour for King Arthur Flour Company from 1967 to 1969. In 1969, the Inn began to operate the Mill, hiring its own full-time Miller. The Grist Mill currently produces 5–15 tons of flour per year (depending on demand) which is used in the restaurant’s baked goods and is sold in the Inn Gift Shop.
The Wayside Inn Grist Mill is open to the public from April to November every year, with the Miller available for tours.