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Meiss Gristmill begins restoration journey Monday

July 23, 2011 at 2:23 a.m.

The old gristmill in Memorial Park will be dismantled beginning early next week after occupying a place in Memorial Park for the past 76 years. It will be restored and then moved to Inez. The gristmill came to the area in the 1800s and was passed down to Fred Meiss.

If history actually does repeat itself, then Victoria's Meiss Wind Gristmill stands testament of that fact.

The mill will begin the dismantling, restoration and moving transition to land in south Inez on Monday, after having sat quietly observing downtown Victoria from Memorial Park for the past 76 years.

But the mill's history spans further than just Memorial Park.

ONE OF A KIND

The mill dates to before the Civil War.

Victoria Preservation Inc. Director Gary Dunnam knows its long-winded history as well as the history of Memorial Park.

However, the county is not losing a part of its history, it's gaining it, Dunnam said.

"I think it's great that it's going to be restored," he said. "It's just one more reason to visit Victoria County."

The mill was first bought and located in Goliad County. In the late 1800s, the mill was passed down to Fred Meiss, who moved the mill to a hill near Spring Creek.

In 1935, it was purchased by the Morning Study Club and moved to its current location, Dunnam said.

Now it stands as the only wind gristmill that originated in Texas and is the only one of its design in the U.S. The mill is also a registered Texas historic landmark and is on the national register of historic places.

Michael Maraggia, a descendant of the Meiss family, received the gristmill in October 2009 and wants to preserve the mill's history.

"This is its last move," he said.

A CONTINUING HISTORY

Weeding through the legalities to dismantle, restore and move the mill was no easy task.

The process took Maraggia and the Meiss Wind Gristmill Project Board of Directors about two and a half years.

The legalities take time because it is a registered landmark. The Texas Historical Commission and National Park Service need to see the reason for it's move, the process and where it will be moved, Maraggia said.

"Both the commission and service wanted it to be back in a natural setting," he said.

Once restored, the mill will be located about seven miles south of Inez out in the country. Originally, the idea was to have it close to U.S. 59, but the idea was dropped.

For Maraggia, whose great-great-great-grandfather was Fred Meiss, bringing the mill back to life is something he's very excited for.

The entire Meiss Wind Gristmill project is made up of three phases and will cost about a quarter of a million dollars, Maraggia said.

The dismantling process will take about four weeks and then it will be put in storage for phase two, which is the 12-week restoration project in Virginia.

The last phase will take about six weeks and that is the reconstruction of the mill at its new location.

Once complete, the mill will be fully operational and used for tourism and education, which is what the Meiss descendants want, Maraggia said.

"I think it's one of Texas' best kept secrets," he said. "It's been kept behind a fence for 76 years. It really and truly belongs to Texas."

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