District Overview Inventory List District Map

Sawmill Historic District

LHD boundaries as described are approximate and subject to change. Consult the LHD Study Report on file with the relevant local district commission or municipal authority to verify district boundaries and whether a specific property, particularly one in proximity of a boundary line, is within the district. Also note that LHD boundaries may differ from those of State or National Register Districts.

Year of Establishment:
Notes on Establishment:
The original district established in 1970 was expanded in 1973 to include the Harry C. Main House.
District Authority:
Ledyard Historic District Commission
Link to Commission or Municipal Website:
District Character:
Industrial single-property district

Building, Open Space, Pond, Others

Architectural Style:


1869 (19th Century)

The Ledyard Up-Down sawmill is a rare surviving example of a technology that was once commonplace – a water-powered up-and-down, or sash-type sawmill. The sawmill still operates using the original machinery that dates from just after the Civil War – some of the equipment is likely even older. The mill and surrounding property were purchased by of the town of Ledyard in 1966 and restored to operating condition by volunteers in the 1970s. In addition to the operating up-down sawmill there is a working blacksmith shop and other mill-related artifacts are on display. They include a railroad tie mill original to the sawmill and a gristmill. Mr. Fred Allyn donated horse-drawn ice-harvesting equipment, originally used to harvest ice from Sawmill Pond, and other artifacts. Cutting and storing ice in a shed insulated with the sawdust from the mill operation would have been an off-season activity when reduced water flow and ice on the pond did not allow the saw to operate. A Lane 1878 shingle mill, donated by A. Palmer Steffenson, is also near being in operation. The original shingle mill that was at the site was sold in the 1930s. It was powered by water. The replacement shingle mill will be powered by an electric motor running a line shaft with drive belts connecting to the shingle mill. There is a working set of blacksmith tools in the restored blacksmith shop. There also is a root cellar on the property. The Ledyard Up-Down Sawmill is owned by the town of Ledyard, CT and is administered by the Ledyard Historic District Commission. [3]

Industry, Engineering: In 1966, the Town of Ledyard purchased the former Main property comprising of a total of 11.6 acres for historical preservation and recreational purposes. Located on the property is what is believed to be the only surviving vertical or up-and-down sawmill in the State, the Town has developed the tract for recreation with the pond that powered the sawmill used for water-oriented activities. Old deeds and other sources indicate that a sawmill was in operation on this site in the mid-l8th century. The present structure is considered to be the third and to have been built in 1869. Lumbering has been a vital part of the growth of the Town of Ledyard, and as roads developed the mill could send its products farther afield. As a living documentary of earlier Connecticut industry, formerly common to almost any area with available water power throughout New England, this mill when restored and operating can be a source of education to both school children and adults and an unusual tourist attraction. [NR]

[1] District information retrieved from the town website http://www.town.ledyard.ct.us/.
[2] Sawmill Study Report, Ledyard, SHPO Library, Hartford.
[3] More information retrieved from the website of Ledyard Sawmill Park, http://sites.google.com/site/ledyardsawmill/.
[4] Assessors information and GIS map retrieved from the website http://www.ledyardgis.com/.
[NR] Babbitt Susan, Main Sawmill, National Register Nomination Number- 72001332 NRIS, National Park Service, 1972 - http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Text/72001332.pdf; http://pdfhost.focus.nps.gov/docs/NRHP/Photos/72001332.pdf.

The property is listed in the National Register of Historic Places under the name "Main Sawmill" for the Main family who owned the mill from 1887 until it was sold to the town of Ledyard in 1966.

Date of Compilation:
Manjusha Patnaik, CT Trust for Historic Preservation