It's official—Kiel mill approved as historic site

The Kiel mill can be seen in the background in this view from across the river at the Veterans Memorial.

The historic Kiel mill is now officially historic, having been approved last Friday as one of the newest entries on the Wisconsin State Register of Historic Places.

About 10 Kiel residents with an interest in the mill gathered at the Community Center for a Zoom call with Wisconsin Historical Society officials who administer the program.

After about an hour and a half of watching and listening to the process take place for other nominated sites around the state, it was Kiel’s turn. City Administrator Jamie Aulik and Alderwoman Kathy Schuette answered some questions posed by Historical Society officials, after which the society voted unanimously to extend the historic designation to the mill.

In addition to obviously making for some happy people in the room at the Community Center, Aulik said the action clears the way for both the private improvements to the mill building by Marcus Ladd and the city’s improvements to the adjacent dam area. “Overall, I think this is going to be a really nice project,” he said.

Aulik said the Historical Society’s questions primarily concerned the city’s ongoing work with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources relating to the dam. He called the historic site designation a “triggering event” which will, in essence, divorce the mill from the dam and from flood plain zoning and allow progress to be made on both fronts. Aulik said he has already received an email from the DNR’s dam safety engineer acknowledging Friday’s developments.

Perhaps the biggest advantage of that separation is that the city will not be required to construct a very expensive flood wall which would have blocked off the mill from the dam.

As early as this week, City of Kiel Department of Public Works employees could be working in the millpond area to remove some trees which are leaning over the river and which could cause damage to the dam if they were to fall. Aulik said other maintenance work on the dam likely will be done during the balance of this year. Some paperwork and legal items also need to be taken care of, including the written abandonment of the concrete wall which abuts the mill.

At some point a historical marker is likely to be erected at the mill site as well.

The State Register is Wisconsin’s official list of state properties determined to be significant to Wisconsin’s heritage. The State Historic Preservation Office at the Wisconsin Historical Society administers both the National Register and State Register in Wisconsin.

Both registers include buildings, sites, districts, structures, and objects that are significant in national, state or local history. In addition, both registers include resources related to architecture, archaeology, engineering or culture.

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