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Shelter at Old Mill State Park Old Mill State Park
National Register Listing:
October 1989

Old Mill State Park includes eight WPA/Rustic Style historic resources. These resources are located in a 25-acre historic district that defines the original development in the park. Architects for the park buildings were from the Design Office of the Minnesota Division of State Parks and the National Park Service.

The parks historic district includes these resources:

Shelter Building
Latrine
Beach House
Drinking Fountain
Diversion Dam
Swimming Beach
Suspension Bridge
Water Tower

Historical Significance

Old Mill State Park was heavily used when it first opened, providing recreational facilities to a large number of people in the rather sparsely populated northwestern section of the state. In 1938, although the area was only partially developed, an organized picnic one Sunday brought more than 10,000 people to the park.

The buildings and structures at Old Mill State Park are exceptionally significant architecturally as outstanding examples of rustic style split stone construction. The Suspension Bridge in particular is a notable rustic style architectural achievement. These historic resources are characterized by non-intrusive and environmentally sensitive designs based on National Park Service design philosophy and master planning, which carefully located the park buildings and structures along the Middle River.

Park History

Old Mill State Park was established in 1937 when the State of Minnesota purchased 285 acres at a cost of $11,000. The park was originally known as Middle River State Park. Its name was changed in 1951 to prevent confusion with similar names in Marshall County and to honor an old grist mill located in the park. The mill was built by John Larson in 1889 on the Larson family farm, which had been homesteaded in 1882. The mill is listed individually on the National Register.

This area along the Middle River was associated with recreation long before the park was established. As early as 1901 the site had been used as a picnic ground and a baseball field. Once the park was established, WPA funds of $11,107 were allocated for the construction of the present facilities.

For current information about Old Mill State Park, go to the DNR website.