Historic Sylvester Manor Windmill is Raised

The historic 1810 Dominy Windmill at Sylvester Manor.

On July 13, the historic 1810 Dominy Windmill located in the farm fields of Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island was raised six feet in the air. For the last nearly 100 years, the windmill had been sitting on top of loosely stacked boulders, according to a release issued by Sylvester Manor this week. By lifting the windmill permanent footings can be installed. Once the foundation has been completed, the second phase will begin which includes addressing structural and exterior issues as well as re-shingling. The third phase will focus on restoring the windshaft and blades, and the fourth and final phase will be to restore the mostly wooden machinery inside the mill to its fully functioning condition. The ultimate goal is to fully restore and preserve the windmill so that it can be open to the public for viewing and educational programs, and its legacy as an operational windmill revived.

The windmill was originally built in 1810 in Southold by Nathaniel Dominy and moved to Shelter Island by barge in 1840. Around 1879 the mill ceased full time operations at which time it was purchased by Lilian Horsford, a descendant of the original Sylvester family. It was her goal to save this part of Long Island history for future generations.

In 1926 Miss Cornelia Horsford, Lilian’s sister, moved the windmill from the center of Shelter Island, near the library and school, to its present location on Sylvester Manor. The Sylvester family has had a long history of stewardship on Shelter Island, the Dominy Windmill being but one example.

All funds raised to restore the windmill have been donated by supporters of Sylvester Manor.

“Sylvester Manor is thankful to its donors for their ongoing support of this project, and to the local builders and historic preservation experts working with the Sylvester Manor team to restore the iconic windmill,” said the nonprofit in a statement. “This extended family of Sylvester Manor shares Lilian Horsford’s goal of maintaining this great machine of the agricultural age; a machine which turned raw farm produce into finished meal and flour to help feed a hungry nation.”