In 1748 Abel Barnum constructed the first grist mill on the site now occupied by the Brookfield Craft Center office. Although the first mill burned down, the present ,mill building was erected in 1780. It became the central meeting place in the area.
From the earliest days through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and World War I, the mill’s continuous operation offered a source of food preparation, an outlet for grain, and neutral ground for intellectual and social communication. Whether one was a wealthy land owner or a small farmer, all men came to the mill for the same purpose. All shared a common interest on this common ground. The mill ceased full time operation in the 1920’s, and until 1952 was used for multiple applications and eventually fell into disrepair.
Nancy DuBois (Hagmayer) acquired the Brookfield Grist Mill in 1954 and founded the ‘The Brookfield Craft Center’. From the beginning the craft center has focused on providing “a sense of personal accomplishment and achievement through work with one’s hands.” Ms. Hagmayer wanted the center “to be available for everyone, anytime, who was interested in crafts,” and “the focus would be on personal doing, rather than the object.”
In 1989 Andy Barnum had an idea to “create a group where all people who had an interest in woodturning could meet and share with other turners. Andy envisioned a group where all people would be equally important: No VIPs, higher ups, or inner circle of cognoscenti. The idea was to share what you knew with others and get back what others might have shared with you. The interest in turning would be the great leveling force, making everybody equals.”
Andy brought the idea to Dee Wagner at the craft center and credits her with “establishing the values as well as the actual formation of the group. She persuaded Brookfield Craft Center to allow us to try creating the group even though we had no idea of how to make the group succeed. Her generous spirit and goodwill inspired us to give it a try. To us it seemed like a perfect partner to the craft center that Nancy Hagmayer created. Everyone was welcome: learning, growing and sharing were what mattered. Growing, not perfection was the point: and each individual was important.” Dee Wagner, Dennis & Iona Elliot and Andy Barnum were the people involved in organizing the first meeting.
Common interests in developing individual craft skills continues to bind the Nutmeg Turners and Brookfield Craft Center. We believe that the relationship continues to be mutually beneficial to both organizations. As a club, we have the opportunity to utilize BCC’s facilities, and to benefit from the association with such a prestigious organization. We also have an obligation to continue to support the BCC in any way we can. Financial education grants, memorial gifts, memberships, donations of equipment, and production of items for the BCC to use in their fund raising activities are just some of the ways we have supported the BCC.