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Thank You!

 

Please support these businesses who have kindly donated to

Bill's Dream:

The Sutton Company

Joseph's Wayside Market

Canandaigua National Bank

Monica's Pies

The Naples Hotel

Divine Designs

Finger Lakes Dental Care
Naples Valley Chiropractic

Help us realize Bill Vierhile’s Dream
to restore and transform the Naples Red Mill
as a museum for future generations.

 Meet Bill Vierhile, a Champion for Naples 

 

    Bill Vierhile (1926-2015) was owner of Vierhile’s Appliance Store at 125 Main Street in Naples. As a collector of historical documents and artifacts, (he once said, “I collect everything”), Bill was also a Curator of Cemeteries for Naples, Vice-President of the Ontario County Genealogical Society, a member of the Board of the Ontario County Historical Society, Naples Town Historian, and an active member of Naples Rotary. For a short while, Bill was the Village Mayor and, with his brother, Bob, was instrumental in launching the first Naples Grape Festival in 1961. In 2015, Bill generously donated the Naples Red Mill to the Naples Historical Society.

 Sharing Bill's Dream 

 

    The Naples Historical Society shares Bill’s dream to see the Red Mill serve as a museum once again. Since 2015, NHS has obtained a Structural Condition Assessment (MRB Group), improved drainage around the building, repaired the roof, remediated an infestation of powder post beetles, added a handicap ramp, re-pointed the basement stone walls, and replaced the wooden door to the lower level. Furthermore, Society volunteers continue to spend countless hours cleaning, organizing, identifying, and recording the artifacts and stories inside the Mill that span decades of Naples history and Naples memories.

    Professional assessments indicate that renovation of the Mill will be a multi-phase project:

• Phase I: Exterior residing and stabilizing of identified interior beams

• Phase II: Schematic planning for museum spaces and interior design

• Phase III: Organizing the collection and creation of a Naples History Museum 

 Naples Red Mill Past, Present, and Future 

 

    The Naples Red Mill is a time capsule of the life and times in 19th century upstate New York. Built in 1815, the Mill was vital to Naples at the beginning of the mechanized new world, as people harnessed the power of nature to produce the goods needed to sustain life. The Mill used water from Grimes Glen to transform grain into flour. It became so important in its day that it redefined the location of the Naples Village. It drew settlers from neighboring towns, and it became a meeting place where the news of the day was discussed as folks gathered on its wrap-around porches.

    The Mill was built by Simeon Lyon in 1815. Thirty-five years later Lyons’ son, S. C. Lyons, and partners Watkins and Story, renovated the Mill using the original structure and foundation.

    Through the 1800’s ownership changed several times, and new improvements were made. Steam power was added in 1870, followed by a new waterwheel in 1872, and a general overhauling was begun in 1881. In 1889, N. W. Clark purchased the Mill and installed a roller process for grinding wheat. He called it the “Naples Roller and Exchange Mill.”  

    B.L. Clark changed the water wheel to a turbine in 1906. Electricity was substituted for waterpower in 1911, and water was forever shut off from the Naples Mill race in 1920. After its purpose as a functioning mill came to an end, the building was purchased by Widmer’s Winery in 1930 and used for storage. In 1965, Widmer’s donated the Mill to the Village of Naples who used it to warehouse outdated highway equipment.

    While commerce boomed elsewhere throughout the Naples valley, the impressive Mill structure, with its locally-hewn wood planks and fieldstone foundation, remained a picturesque reminder of local history and traditions.

    Years later, in 1975, Bill Vierhile, Naples Town Historian and local business owner, bought the Red Mill from the town for $2,200. With a dream to convert it into a museum for the historic and educational benefit of the community, Bill began to make repairs: replacing old clapboards, putting on a new roof, adding electricity to the entire building, and recreating an exterior porch on the scale of the original porch. Investing about $10,000 in repairs, Bill filled the building with his collections and celebrated the “Grand Opening of Naples Red Mill Museum” on July 9, 1980. After that, the museum was occasionally open to the public through 2005.

    In 2015, Bill donated the Red Mill and its contents to the Naples Historical Society with the hope that our organization would carry on his dream. It currently serves as a repository for our many collections, as well as local artifacts and antiques donated by Bill from his collections. Clearly, Bill did his part to preserve Naples history. Now it’s our turn to step up and take care of this historic village treasure for future generations.

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 We need your help 

    The structure is in need of much work. Before we can even think about inviting people inside the Mill as a museum, our first priority must be to stabilize the building and re-side it.

    We have a good start on reaching our goal, including approximately $30,000 in our capital reserve account, created in 2022 with the proceeds from the sale of our former tin shop property; along with generous donations of funds and in-kind services from our own board members, totaling over $11,150. We are also researching and applying for grants for this project.

    Our goal is to raise $100,000 by December 31, 2024, so that work can start in 2025.

 

    Additionally, we are requesting in-kind services, such as the loan of mobile elevating work platforms (cherry pickers, bucket trucks), grant writers, and donations of lumber.

 

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