Middletown, Rhode Island

Boyd's Windmill, also known as Boyd's Wind Grist Mill, stands as a timeless symbol of Middletown's rich history. This c. 1810 structure is now in a public park.

Location Added By:

Tom Riley (GoXplr Account)

About This Location

Boyd's Windmill, also known as Boyd's Wind Grist Mill, stands as a timeless symbol of Middletown's rich history. Located in the picturesque Paradise Valley Park along Prospect Avenue, this historic smock mill has been capturing the imaginations of photographers, historians, and sightseers for generations.

A Glimpse into the Past:

The history of Boyd's Windmill traces its origins back to the early 19th century when John Peterson constructed the windmill in 1810, at the corner of Mill Lane and West Main Rd. in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Five years later, in 1815, William Boyd acquired the mill, making it an integral part of his legacy. Originally equipped with four common sails, the Boyd family eventually expanded the mill's capabilities by adding four more sails, enhancing its grinding power.

This timber-frame structure, a testament to early American craftsmanship, takes the form of an octagonal tower standing at approximately 30 feet in height. A distinguishing feature is the mill's rotating cap, crowned with eight vanes fitted with canvas sheets. Within the mill, the grindstones are hewn from Fall River granite. The upper grindstone, linked to the power mechanisms, completes six rotations for every single turn of the mill's central shaft.

In 1916, Benjamin Boyd initiated a transformative change by replacing the original vanes and adopting a gasoline engine to power the mill. This conversion marked a shift from wind-driven milling to a more modern method.

A Rarity Preserved:

Boyd's Windmill's significance extends beyond its historical charm. It holds a unique position as one of only two surviving historic windmills on Aquidneck Island, a testament to the importance of preserving such cultural heritage. The other windmill is located at Prescott Farm in Middletown.

This historic treasure is further commemorated as it prominently features on the town seal of Middletown, serving as a symbol of its rich history.

Preservation and Relocation:

In the 1990s, Boyd's Windmill underwent a careful process of restoration, driven by the dedication of the Middletown Historical Society. The mill found a new home in Paradise Valley Park, relocated to a concrete foundation with a surface adorned by fieldstones from its original foundation. The restoration project meticulously addressed deteriorated components, including the canister, windshaft, vertical shaft, corner posts, floorboards, and plank sheathing. Well-documented and painstakingly crafted replacements ensured that the windmill's historical integrity was preserved.

The new location within Paradise Valley Park provides a fittingly rustic backdrop, opposite the William Peckham House (1750), adjacent to the Paradise School (1875, National Register), and overlooking several historic farms along Paradise Avenue.

National Recognition:

Boyd's Windmill's historical significance was formally recognized when it was added to the National Register of Historic Places on January 26, 2001. This prestigious inclusion underscores the mill's exceptional role in preserving America's architectural and cultural heritage.

The National Register designation is a prestigious honor, acknowledging the mill's role as a cherished historical icon and the commitment of those who worked diligently to ensure its preservation. The reference number for Boyd's Windmill on the National Register of Historic Places is 01000018.

Visitor's Paradise:

Visitors to Boyd's Windmill are welcomed with ample free parking within the picturesque Paradise Valley Park. The park itself offers a delightful array of amenities, including informational kiosks, benches, picnic tables, walking trails, and, not to be missed, a stunning daffodil patch that blooms each spring, adding to its charm.

Boyd's Windmill can be admired year-round, but for those eager for a closer look inside, summer months bring the opportunity for guided tours. During July, August, and September, the windmill opens its doors to the public on Sunday afternoons, allowing visitors to step back in time and appreciate its historical significance.

Paradise Valley Park is also a dog-friendly destination, complete with poop bags and ample space for four-legged companions to stretch their legs. Visitors are kindly encouraged to clean up after their pets, ensuring that this historic location remains pristine and enjoyable for all.

Location Features

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Prospect Avenue, Middletown, Rhode Island

GPS Coordinates:
41.500715, -71.269596
Directions to location:
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Directions to parking area:
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Parking Notes:
There is ample parking for Paradise Valley Park, which is where Boyd’s Windmill stands. There are spots for about 2 dozen cars and the lot can be found off Prospect Avenue. Parking is free.


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