Completing the Baltic Mill Restoration realized an 8-year-old dream for the Belvidere Park District (Belvidere, IL), which opted to salvage the 1845 relic after more than 40 years of mostly non-use. After conducting extensive committee research and meetings, the district provided us with 3 main program objectives:
- Restore the 7,500 s.f., 4-level Mill to become an agricultural museum.
- Design an addition to house the Arts Council and its exhibits, and to provide a community meeting room and public rest rooms. This annex should resemble as closely as possible the sawmill annex that was once attached to the Mill, as well as provide handicapped accessibility to 3 levels.
- Design a performance stage in an amphitheater setting for use by the summer children’s theater and Concerts in the Park series.
The project’s greatest surprise came when excavators preparing to pour the new concrete basement floor unearthed the Mill’s 48-inch McCormack turbine (see photo below), which had been buried 8 feet below the floor. At 2- to 3-tons, historians say the turbine cost $12,000 at the time of purchase and was top-of-the-line technology in its day.
To make the 1,400 s.f., 2-level addition tie into the 1845 Mill, a specialized construction company from Iowa was hired to retrieve pine pieces from an old barn in northern Boone County and craft them into hand-hewn timbers. A dual access, 3-stop elevator provides accessibility. A sump pump in the elevator well provides relief for the addition’s flood plain location.