There’s a lot of love for the old saw mill down off Union Street in Marshfield.
So much so that the town has put the mill on its flag.
The Hatch Mill was originally a water-powered grist mill built in 1752. It was one of several mills in the area called 2 Mile.
Sometime around 1810, Joal Hatch built a sawmill on the site.
The sawing was done with an up-and-down saw, often called a sash saw because of its boxy similarity to a window sash.
It left perpendicular marks on the faces of boards and lumber.
A few decades later, a larger box mill was added onto the sawmill.
This mill made boards for the boxes in which shoes and boots were shipped, including those worn by soldiers in the American Civil War.
Decker Hatch was the last sawyer at the mill. He sawed there even into his 80’s.
Water always powered his saw, though by the last time sawing was done there around 1965, Decker was using a large circular saw, not a sash saw.
For the replacement timbers and boards, we are using material from another sawmill just down the road. Dean Copeland does great work at Copeland and Sons Lumber Co, though his saw is powered by more conventional means.
While we have worked, more than a few neighbors have stopped by with memories of their fathers buying boards from Decker Hatch. Some of these boards were used to make skating rinks just down the road.
Others have told us stories about working with Decker when they were young, stacking sawn stuff out in back of the mill. They say the mill would sometimes close on days in late summer when the water in the pond was too low to power the saw.
Friends have come from near and far to help us restore The Hatch Mill.
This is a noble act of a community who sees the value in preserving the last mill on Two Mile–not just to venerate history but to teach the future.
And on a perfect September day last week…
…we all raised the first wall.
To several in attendance, this simple frame was as symbolic as it was structural.
There aren’t too many water-driven sash saw mills around anymore.
People are drawn to this little nook in MarshVegas.
They know it’s a special place.
Someday soon, there’ll be the unmistakable sound of an up-and-down saw working timber into boards again–
–so long as there’s water in the pond.
And the stewards of The Hatch Mill–those who refused to let it die–will be there telling stories and sharing their work with those who would have otherwise never known–
–in this small, but not insignificant corner of the world.
BLUE OAK will get to the specifics of the mill and its restoration in coming posts.