Grist Mill Antiques Center
Then & Now
In 1693, the Budd family was deeded lands in the western New Jersey territory known as Hampton Hanover. In 1752, David Budd went into partnership with Patrick Reynolds, Robert Smith and Daniel Smith to create an industrial complex consisting of a grist mill, a saw mill and several other commerical buildings and residences; in essence one of the first "company towns" in America. Once the development was completed, the town was renamed New Mills, in deference to the milling operation, which was the hub of activity and main employer in the area. Industry flourished as more craftsmen settled and the town grew to include a cotton manufacturer, haberdashery, clock-makers and carpenters skilled in furniture making.
Although the site maintained the original working grist mill until the late 19th century, there was a depression in 1837 which impacted the region severely. Recovery was slow and more modern, steam-powered mills in larger cities gradually took business from the smaller mills which relied on water power. The town fell victim to a major fire in 1847; however, the mill was rebuilt in 1850 and maintained operations through the remainder of the 19th century as it was well-known for the production of fine, high-quality flour. Eventually, the town, now known as Pemberton, turned its sights on agricultural products and services and the mill eventually became obsolete.
In the early 1900s, the grist mill, changing with the times, became a feed and grain store, supporting the growing rural community and providing goods for the surrounding farms. Agway purchased the property in the late 1940s-early 1950s and continued building the feed and grain business. Eventually, the building was sold and became The French Quarter restaurant in the 1970s.
It's more than fitting, with all this history, that the building became an antiques/craft store in the late 1980s; with the owner paying homage, not only to the storied past of the site, but also by showcasing crafting - which had always been an integral part of the community since Colonial days.
In 1994, the Grist Mill Antiques Center was opened as an antiques cooperative with over 125 dealers in residence. It proudly sits on the parcel of land which was the site of the original grist mill and still celebrates the pioneering entrepreneurial spirit that lived in the founders of our town over three centuries ago.