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Article updated: 2/16/2013 1:39 AM

Historic windmill returning to Elgin

Frank Engel of Hampshire has helped to restore the historic windmill that will be installed along Route 31 in Elgin.

Frank Engel of Hampshire has helped to restore the historic windmill that will be installed along Route 31 in Elgin.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

These windmill support pieces have been stored on Frank Engelís property in Hampshire since the windmill was dismantled in Elgin in 2004.

These windmill support pieces have been stored on Frank Engel's property in Hampshire since the windmill was dismantled in Elgin in 2004.

 

Christopher Hankins | Staff Photographer

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A historic, 65-foot-tall windmill that was dismantled nine years ago is being reconstructed and will serve as an educational site at Foundry Park in Elgin.

The windmill was built in 1922 by the Elgin Wind, Power and Pump Co., which closed in 1948. The windmill was in the back of a property at 1310 Larkin Ave. until 2004, when the homeowners donated it to the Elgin Area Historical Society.

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It was taken apart and moved to Hampshire, on the property of windmill expert Frank Engel, where it's been waiting for a permanent home for the last eight years.

The historical society always wanted to bring it back to its birthplace in Elgin, said historical society Vice President Maurice Dyer.

"There were several places that we looked at, and (Foundry Park) was by far the best place that we could put it. It is the location where the original windmill company was located, on the same grounds," Dyer said.

If all goes smoothly, the windmill should be installed at Foundry Park sometime in May, Dyer said.

It will be located about 300 feet north of Highland Avenue and 65 feet east of Route 31, near the walking path. There will be interpretive signage with history plus information about water and wind power.

The city council approved this week an agreement with the historical society to permit the installation of the windmill, whose foundation will be built by the city.

"I love this idea. It fills a great void in that property," Councilman John Prigge said. "I think it's historic, of course, and I think it's going to be a very significant attraction, and not a distraction, to Route 31."

The 5,000-pound, galvanized-steel windmill and the house on Larkin Avenue were wedding presents from George Peck, president of the Elgin Wind, Power and Pump Co., to his son Richard Peck, Dyer said. It pumped water into an elevated wooden tank to provide water for the house, which back then was outside city limits, he said.

"At the turn of the (20th) century, windmills were used all over the world for pumping water anywhere where they did not have electrical power," he said. "They were very widespread on farms and outside cities."

The windmill had been beaten up by the years, but Engel worked to restore it to its original condition.

"It's kind of a unique windmill. It's got a lot of history behind it," said Engel, who has several windmills on his property.

He made a new wheel, but the rest is all original, he said. He also fixed the gearbox, and plans to paint it before it's installed at Foundry Park.

Engel said he's very happy the windmill will finally have a home.

"It's been a long time," he said. "I kept threating to put it up in my place if they didn't approve it."

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