While the property was still in private ownership, the iconic Sylvester Manor windmill was the only Manor structure in full public view. Built in Southold c. 1810 by Nathaniel Dominy, an East Hampton carpenter and millwright of local renown, it is the only surviving windmill from the North Fork and one of the few left on the East End. The invoice Dominy submitted to the Southold millers reveals that the structure was built by hand in 186 days of labor.
In 1840, the mill was brought by barge to Shelter Island and installed near the site of the present school building in the center of town, replacing an older mill that had burned down. Operated by local miller Joseph Congdon until about 1855, it fell into gradual disuse before being purchased by Lillian Horsford in 1879, who wanted to see the old mill preserved and appreciated. Though owned by the Horsfords, the mill remained in the center of town for several decades more, and was even put back into service grinding meal and flour during a brief period of World War I food conservation initiatives.
It was not until 1926 that Cornelia Horsford had the mill moved to Sylvester Manor, where it has since presided from a rise in the 4-acre field overlooking Manwaring Road. The Windmill Field is the highest natural point on the property and was the first field returned to active agriculture by the Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.
We are in the process of restoring our historic windmill to put it back into operation. We are currently raising the funds to restore the windmill so it can grind grain again. Eventually, we will grow our own grains, grind them in the windmill, and sell the flour and bread at our farmstand. Truly local Shelter Island bread!
If you want to assist us with this major undertaking, please make a donation.