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Share Dick Thompson’s lifelong love of Yates Mill

We’re a lucky bunch at Yates Mill Associates. Our organization’s leadership includes many people whose memories and family ties to the Yates Mill community stretch back generations. Their love for this special place helped save it when they formed Yates Mill Associates in 1989, and it keeps us strong today as we carry out the mission to preserve this 250-year-old treasure. In our upcoming 25th anniversary year, we’ll celebrate their dedication by telling you some of their stories. Please read this letter from Emeritus Director J.D. “Dick” Thompson and hear why, at the grand age of 97, he’s still at work helping us protect, celebrate and share Yates Mill with you.

Dear friends:

Dick Thompson

Dick Thompson on the park visitors’ center porch named in his honor, where you can enjoy a scenic view of Yates Mill. Photo by Marc Hall, N.C. State University

I fell in love with Yates Mill more than 75 years ago.

When I was a young man attending N.C. State University, a good friend invited me to his home. On the trip, we stopped by this wonderful place – still a working gristmill. I heard the sound of water over the dam and the rumble of the old machinery as the miller, Mr. John Daniel Lea, ground corn. I was hooked.

On that day in the mid-1930s, I would never have imagined that I would still be visiting Yates Mill today, still enjoying food made from cornmeal ground on those old stones, still introducing new friends to this beautiful place as a board member and supporter of Yates Mill Associates.

I visited Yates Mill many times over the years, first as a student on class outings and then in my business life, working with farmers in the area and later as an employee of A.E Finley, who owned and protected the mill from the late 1940s until it was purchased by N.C. State in 1963.

Over the decades, I watched Yates Mill change from a quaintly popular old business to a crumbling relic ready to collapse into Steep Hill Creek. But there were plenty of other people who loved Yates Mill and kept it standing until at last, in 1989, a small but strong group of friends took action.

Yates Mill Associates took charge of the old site, marshaling private resources and working with N.C. State and Wake County’s government to turn this mill, built in the 1750s, into the public landmark it should rightfully be.

I was proud to be part of that effort then, and I am proud to still be part of it today. Because the work isn’t over, and never will be, to maintain Yates Mill as a living connection to our shared history.

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YMA holiday sale, Dec. 7

yma gearWe’re warming up for winter at Yates Mill with our annual holiday sale. Mark your calendar for Saturday, Dec. 7, and join us at the park!

The sale runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the A.E. Finley Center at Historic Yates Mill County Park. We’ll have plenty of items for holiday giving including cookbooks, T-shirts, mugs and crafts hand-made by YMA volunteers. This year, we’ll also have baked goods and hot drinks to enjoy.

And of course, we’ll have delicious, stone-ground Yates Mill cornmeal — white or yellow, at $5 per two-pound bag. Order yours now by sending an email to cornmeal@yatesmill.org - let us know if you want white or yellow cornmeal, and how many bags you’d like to share with friends and family (or yourself!).

All our sale proceeds support Yates Mill Associates’ work to maintain, repair and operate historic Yates Mill. We’ve got a big repair job coming up this winter – replacement of the forebay – and every penny will help cover the cost of this significant piece of work.

We’ll write more soon to explain just what we’ll be doing this winter to keep the old mill running. In the meantime, come see us Dec. 7 and get your holiday shopping started at Yates Mill!

 

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Faire du pain avec le moulin de Yates

A Passion for BreadYep, that’s a mouthful — and so were the delicious baked goods we enjoyed at La Farm Bakery early this month as we helped master baker Lionel Vatinet celebrate the publication of his new cook book, “A Passion for Bread.”

Lionel has been a supporter of Yates Mill Associates for several years, since he first included our stone-ground cornmeal in one of his recipes at his bakery and restaurant in the Preston Corners shopping center in Cary. He visited again more recently to buy cornmeal, make a generous gift and take photographs for the cook book.

“A Passion for Bread” features several of those pictures and a recipe for delicious Frenchman’s Corn Bread, using Yates Mill cornmeal — which you can also buy year-round at Historic Yates Mill County Park and at our holiday sale on Saturday, Dec. 7.

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Winter at the park: Staff keeps busy while Yates Mill is closed

By Rebeccah J.W. Cope
Program Director

Yates Mill pond in fall

The millpond this fall. Click to see a larger version, then look along the shore at lower right to see one of our autumn guests!

While the leaves on the trees surrounding the millpond are changing from their summer greens to the colors of fall and the migratory birds are making their way through the area, park staff is already thinking about winter and planning for the many activities that will take place during the months when the mill is closed.

We’ll wrap up the 2013 mill tour season with a few more guided tours through the end of November, including the season’s final corn-grinding weekend on Nov. 16-17. Then our volunteer interpreters will meet Dec. 1 to review the year and consider changes and improvements to our tours.

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It’s always news at Yates Mill

Our friends at News 14 Carolina produced a lovely video about visiting Yates Mill. We thank them for sending more guests our way. Share their video with your friends and invite them to come visit!

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