The Conversation Starter

A large wooden wheel in our ceiling is the subject of much discussion!

img_2363A nice woman from the neighborhood welcomed us to our new home with a peculiar question: “You won’t take down the big wheel, will you?”

The wooden contraption in our ceiling, roughly the size of a wagon wheel, was hard to miss. Anyone who came into the house would cock their head and exclaim, “What is that?” We had no answer. I suspected the groove around the wheel once possessed a leather belt, and the belt and wheel drove some sort of ancient machinery. It was confirmed thanks to documentation in the local library.

The strength of New England industry began with mills. People learned to harness rivers and lakes to produce a sort of power network, and this network ran the machinery for countless mills. A river near our home was one such power source for regional production. The original owner of our 1805 colonial made shoes, and while he operated a large shop on the riverbank, the wheel in our ceiling was used with some apparatus to supplement his business.

Recently I took to vacuuming the dust and cobwebs from the big wooden wheel and the adjacent beams. The contraption deserves what preservation I can manage in such a wonderful home, and we’re pleased to recount its history to any inquisitive guest!


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