Dismantling is piece-mill work

July 25, 2011 at 2:25 a.m.

Ben Hassett worked under the searing heat of the Texas sun carefully detaching one of Victoria's most historic landmarks in Memorial Square.

Hassett is with B.E. Hassett-Millwrights, the company hired from Virginia to dismantle the Meiss Wind Gristmill and move it to south Inez for tourism and education.

Hassett and several local workers removed most of the shingles on the mill's tower on Monday.

This is the first part of the dismantling process.

"It's a slow and tedious process," Hassett said after a day's hard work.

Each piece being removed has been tagged and documented.

Hassett came to Victoria last week to prep for the job.

He worked for about 50 hours drawing and sketching up the mill in preparation for the dismantling. The drawing ensures the mill is restored exactly as it was when it was taken down, he said.

The dismantling will continue this week when Hassett and one of his fellow millwrights flies in from Virginia on Tuesday.

Most of Tuesday's work will include removing the roof, and then the sails will be removed on Wednesday.

Working from the top down is the most important part of dismantling the more than 100-year-old mill, he said.

Hassett points at some of the structure.

"Some of the shingles are from the '60s," he said.

With the tower bare, it becomes evident which parts are newer.

Some wood seems solid and sturdy, while other pieces of wood are oddly shaped, cracking and hollow.

Michael Maraggia, who is helping to head the Meiss Wind Gristmill Project, remembers seeing the mill as a child and is amazed to be part of the mill's next chapter.

Maraggia and some of his employees at South Texas Milling were involved, helping with the removal of the shingles.

"It's a really good feeling. It's finally going somewhere. It's very refreshing," he said.



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