Arlington Garden Club flower show marks mill's 250th year

Cut flower displays are shown Saturday at the Arlington Garden Club Flower Show at the historic Grist Mill in Arlington.

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ARLINGTON -- The owners of Gristmill Antiques at Candle Mill Village opened its doors to the Arlington Garden Club for its flower show. Having been closed since early spring, the gristmill, 316 Old Mill Road, served the club as a venue to celebrate the mill's 250th building anniversary.

The nearly 70-year-old garden club consists of roughly 50 members who meet regularly at the American Legion Post 69.

Corresponding secretary for the club and flower show committee member Nancy Boardman said the garden club coordinates events around conservation, landscape and floral design.

"We have not had (a garden show) in about five or six years and we thought it was time to do that," Boardman said. "People get freaked out by the thought of doing arrangements that are going to be judged."

There are different types of flower shows. The club invited three judges to put on its "small-standard" show as an outlet for members to exhibit their green thumbs.

Judges, who are certified by the federated garden clubs, observed and graded two components to the show: Horticulture and arrangement. Judges awarded first through third place and honorable mention ribbons to each subdivided classes for the two show components.

Grading sheets test each submission against a 100-point standard, which are reputed according to rigorous guidelines for design, theme, aesthetics, space and presentation.

Boardman submitted an entry to the horticulture show, in which club members select their best clippings of single specimens to display.

"My delphinium won an award of merit," she said. "The biggest award for horticulture was given to a (large) yucca plant. It has a plate, which is an award that gets passed down through the years to whoever wins it."

After the judging was completed, the garden show chair Nancy Hadley took the judges out for lunch while they visited town. Afterward, club members and the public were able to browse the entries and their placements among the wood-interior mill, exhibited like a museum.

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The building was completed in 1764 by Remember Baker, who was given incentive by both Sunderland and Arlington to construct the mill.

At the time, every town needed to have a gristmill. Baker constructed his mill using pressurized water from a tributary of the Battenkill river to turn a grinding mechanism and process corn and wheat.

Later sold to a British loyalist when Baker traveled north to spy for the American rebels, only to be taken over by the Green Mountain Boys. Forcing the mill owner to flee to canada, the rebel regiment used the mill to house its meetings.

The building continued to be a gristmill until the 20th Century, when it became a saw mill and then a candle mill.

Verrall and Donald Keelan purchased the complex of buildings associated with the mill in 2002, when it began serving as antique store. Verrall Keelan retired and has placed each building up for individual sale for commercial or retail use.

"This building has been so well taken care of that we really just think of ourselves as stewards for the past 13 years," Donald Keelan said. "We are passing it on to somebody else now."

See the gristmill buildings real estate listing at

Visit the Arlington Garden Club online at

Contact Tom Momberg at Follow him on Twitter @TomMomberg.


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