Busti Historical Society To Hold Wednesday Meeting

The Busti Historical Society will hold a meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m. in the Busti Museum basement for its first regular business meeting of 2013.

There is no program, but the meeting is open to the public.

The main phase of restoration of the Busti Grist Mill and machinery, the project the society was formed to accomplish, is done and ready. A major topic at the meeting will be planning for an open house celebration June 9 at which the mill will be re-dedicated to the community and its present and future residents. Those who have helped through the years will be honored. In the next few months, the society will be making efforts to locate and issue special invitations to individuals, descendants and groups who played a significant role.

Saving the mill was first suggested soon after it closed in 1960 by Stanley Weeks, former mayor of Jamestown. But the effort that actually took root was initiated in a letter of June 30, 1963, when Busti resident Erlene Lydell proposed a project much like the one that has actually come about.

The town of Busti came into possession of the Mill and saw few options beyond demolition of the building. On May 19, 1965, Post-Journal staff writer Margaret K. Look wrote a feature that breathed new life into hopes for restoration. Town Supervisor Joseph Gerace called two public meetings June 30 and Oct. 15, 1965. These uncovered a great deal of interest in the historic significance of the mill.

In 1969 the Busti Shamrocks 4-H Club took interest in the mill as a community service project. The members’ vigor and determination were what really set the effort in motion. On Aug. 7 and Oct. 2, 1971, the first volunteer work at the site and in the mill respectively, was accomplished.

The Busti Historical Society formed Feb. 2, 1972, to accommodate the large and growing adult interest and participation in the project.

The first Busti Pioneer Craft Festival was held Sept. 16 and 17, 1972, and the first one-day Apple Festival was held Sept. 28, 1975. For the first seven years the society usually organized several festivals and similar events each year in addition to managing numerous other fundraising events and projects. Meanwhile, the Shamrocks continued to contribute from their own fundraising efforts.

Numerous grants, mostly from local foundations, local organizations, local businesses and local individuals, have been sought, received and appreciated over the years, but most of the funding of the project has been earned by the society, and in early years by the 4-H.

On Feb. 21 of this year, millwright James Kricker visited and examined the project. He has been consulting with the group since his first visit in May of 1990.

The restoration of the original miller house, acquired in March 2011, is continuing. Further work on this will also be discussed at the meeting.

On Thursday, March 14, the society will play host to a meeting of the official Chautauqua County Municipal Historians. This will include a tour and demonstration of the mill and a catered dinner with menu reminiscent of the society’s well-known festival food.

Other topics of business will include setting work days, future meeting programs and early preparations for the Apple Festival Sept. 29.