“[When complete], the building will contain multi-purpose space on the main level with additional space overlooking the balcony railing that can be used for receptions, meeting space, community gatherings, exhibition space and as an education venue,” Euharlee Planning and Zoning Administrator Ron Goss said. “The building will contain a prep area for catering services as well as men’s and women’s restrooms on both levels. An observation deck will exist overlooking Euharlee Creek, the foundation of the mill’s original dam, the historic covered bridge as well as the ‘picturesque waterwheel,’ which shall be re-installed.”
“... The project is currently beginning the sixth of seven stages required to become a reality. The first three stages — concept, design and funding — were addressed in 2011 and 2012. The permitting phase, which included review by such agencies as the Corps of Engineers, the Environmental Protection Division and the Georgia Historic Preservation Division, span 2012 and 2013. Archeology work required as part of the state and federal permitting was conducted in 2014. The final two stages, which is the stabilization of the historic masonry foundations and then the construction of the timber framed mill ... will begin in the next few months. The mill will be constructed in its original post and beam timber style construction, which can also be seen by viewing the method used on the historic covered bridge. The anticipated completion date is late 2015.”
Describing Lowry Mill as an “economic force,” Goss said in its prime the structure served Bartow and six other surrounding counties.
“Lowry Mill is located just below the covered bridge on Euharlee Creek,” Goss said. “The site includes the foundation of structures on both sides of the creek as well as the base of the original dam and the areas that were flooded to channel the water used to operate the mill. The mill dates back to the 1820s and evolved in its footprint and operations. It milled grain, processed wool and at one point even had a planing operation that provided finished lumber that was used to help construct other buildings within the community. It became such a strong economic force in the area that the mill serviced seven counties and a series of log cabins were constructed along the creek to accommodate overnight guests visiting the mill.
“In December 1920, the Cartersville Newspaper reported that ‘the picturesque old wheel is no more, a modern turbine having taken its place as all modern machinery has superseded the old time apparatus.’ The account of the 1920 conversion to a turbine-driven facility versus that of a waterwheel is believed to have been the last major overhaul of the facility before it fell into decline and collapsed in on itself during the late 1950s to early 1960s. The two ‘modern turbines,’ buried beneath several feet of dirt for the past six decades, were excavated by archeologists in 2014 as part of the Lowry Mill project.”
The idea to renovate and rebuild the structure for future use stemmed in citizen group meetings about five years ago.
“In 2009, a series of citizen group meetings were held by City Manager Trish Sullivan,” Goss said. “In response to the question, ‘What is the most important improvements that the City of Euharlee should do related to its history and historic downtown?’ the overwhelming number one response was to restore the Lowry Mill site. Soon after, the Lowry Mill project was listed as one of the countywide projects on the SPLOST [Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax] ballot, which was later approved by the citizens of Bartow County.
“The importance of the mill is the site was the origins of the city itself. The mill was established and the community of Burge’s Mill, later Euharleeville and then Euharlee, developed around it. It directly or indirectly influenced each and every historic structure within the city that stands today including the nationally recognized Euharlee Covered Bridge.”
For Euharlee History Museum Director Katie Gobbi, rebuilding Lowry Mill will give area residents the opportunity to reconnect with the city’s past.
“Euharlee’s roots truly lie in our agricultural history. ... Without this mill, we wouldn’t really have our covered bridge,” Gobbi said. “Without the mill, Euharlee wouldn’t be what it is today. So to be able to restore it and have it be a historic building so people can ... see the carpentry and the stonework and [revisit] our historic roots, I think that enhances and adds to the historic value of our town and of the downtown area.”