House of the Week: Renovated Stone Mill

1679 Mill Rd, St Johnsville, NY
For sale: $1,000,000

When Ron and Judy Hezel were looking for their dream retirement home, they each had their own, albeit unusual, requirements.

Ron Hezel wanted a house with secret tunnels and passages. “I grew up loving the Hardy Boys,” he says in way of explanation.

Judy Hezel wanted a home built with stone that was near waterfalls.

The house they found in upstate New York State was a marriage of both their desires.

Built in the 1830s, the residence was formerly a stone grist mill, and operated until the 1930s in St. Johnsville. When the Hezels bought the property, which sits beside waterfalls on the Mohawk River inlet Timmerman Creek, it hadn’t been touched for several years.

Each weekend, the couple made the 150-mile roundtrip drive from New York City to the property, where they painstakingly transformed the mill into a residence, retaining much of its original character — worn, stone and brick walls and deeply grooved wood floors — in their design.

When Ron Hezel paneled over some of the damaged walls, he did it in such a way that the panels could be removed and the scribblings of the mill workers would be maintained.

“The walls are covered with thousands of mathematical equations. The walls look like hieroglyphics. We wanted to turn it into a bathroom so I put paneling over it, but I wanted to do it so you could pop it right off,” he said.

The Hezels operated the mill as a bed and breakfast, and the home could continue in that capacity — or perhaps as a brewery, museum or host of other things.

The mill itself had four levels; three are living spaces, one is designed to be a utility or storage space. Also on the grounds are the original barn, a three-car garage and remodeled guest cottage.

For a more in-depth history of the mill, see http://www.waterfallrealestate.com/.

Sherry Comstock of Van Billings Real Estate holds the listing.

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Erika Riggs, a real estate writer for Zillow Blog, covers celebrity real estate, unusual properties and home design trends. Read more of her work here.