Spocott Windmill hosts Earth Day celebration

MD-Spocott windmill earth day_mill

Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
Tom Howell was the builder on the windmill reconstruction project. Reconstructing the mill was the dream of U.S. Senator George Radcliffe.

CAMBRIDGE—The weather was perfect for an Earth Day celebration at the Spocott Windmill on Saturday, sponsored by the Windmill Foundation and the Dorchester Citizens for Planned Growth (DCPG.) Just one little thing went wrong. The scheduled running of the windmill, which only happens twice a year, had to be canceled. The wind itself celebrated Earth Day by taking a day off and since the whole structure rotates on a center post turned by the wind, it could not be operated.

But even with no wind, you could still climb up inside the windmill and be blown away by the seven foot wheel designed to grind corn. It is beautiful. Reconstructed by the late master builder Jim Richardson and his son-in-law Tom Howell, the windmill is a replica of one destroyed by a blizzard in 1888.

Reconstructing the mill was the dream of U.S. Senator George Radcliffe, whose prominent family owned the land. With the original millstones, it was completed for his 95th birthday and today his son George and daughter-in-law Jackie see to the village that has grown around the windmill on the land they deeded for public enjoyment and education. Earth Day visitors came for the music, the food, and the trip back in history.

The Castle Haven one- room schoolhouse was moved to the site from a half-mile away, retaining its schoolhouse setup. For Earth Day youngsters, it provided a historic look and a science quiz. Identifying some rocks was easy, but could anyone correctly identify one specimen?…petrified dinosaur poop!

A miller’s house was once the real home of Columbus, a freed slave and his wife Adaline, a renowned cook. The couple worked for the Radcliffe family. A doctor’s office, a blacksmith shop and a general store/museum have also been moved to the growing village that teaches about Dorchester history and culture.

Fun and games have history too, and there was Daniel Firehawk Abbott teaching a very old game, Hoop and Lance. He rolls a hoop down a grassy area where players are lined up, armed with lances. The aim is to capture the hoop, which resembles the dreamcatchers we know. But you’re dreaming if you think this is easy. The eye-hand coordination is a challenge. We learn that Native Americans wagered at this game. A better bet is that there will be wind on October 17, and the sails will fill and the next planned running of the windmill will take place.

MD-Spocott windmill earth day_games

Dorchester Banner/Gloria Rojas
Daniel Firehawk Abbott demonstrates a very old Native American game called Hoop and Lance at the Spocott Mill Earth Day celebration.

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