Freeman’s Mill, more commonly known as the Alcovy River Grist Mill or Swann’s Mill, was originally constructed between 1868-1879 by brothers, John Griffin Loveless and Levi J. Loveless. It is located on the southern bank of the Alcovy River just north of Alcovy Road and east of Bramlett Shoals Road.
The mill is a superb example of the typical rural gristmills found along rivers throughout Georgia in the middle nineteenth century. The Georgia Department of Agriculture record shows that by 1876, there were 1,262 water-powered mills in the state. The mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1996, for its significance in architecture, engineering, industry and social history.
Farmers brought their corn to the mill to be ground into corn meal and as payment for his services the miller retained a portion of the grain to sell himself. Water powered grinding is slow and is considered superior to steam or electric powered grinding which ground so fast that the meal was heated and thus changed the taste. The 1880 manufacturing census shows that Freeman’s Mill ran 10 hours a day, year round and produced 40 barrels of wheat flour, 14,400 pounds of corn meal and 54,000 pounds of feed per year. During the 1930s, while the mill was under the ownership of Newt Pharr it was contracted to produce meal for state prison camps as well as the TB Hospital at Lula.
Ownership of the mill has changed several times over its history. Following ownership by the Loveless brothers, W. Scott Freeman and his son Winfield Freeman ran the mill. Newt Pharr, who owned five other mills in the county, purchased the Alcovy mill in 1915. In 1946, Lewis Swann purchased the mill property from the estate of Newt Pharr who was his great grandfather. Since the mid-1970s, Dr. and Mrs. Julian Swann have maintained the mill and Gwinnett County acquired it in 2002.
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