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Danish Mill rehab complete...

Eight months after a fire nearly destroyed Kenmare’s downtown icon the old Danish Mill, the popular tourist attraction is back to the way it should be.

9/17/19 (Tue)

Eight months after a fire nearly destroyed Kenmare’s downtown icon the old Danish Mill, the popular tourist attraction is back to the way it should be.

According to park board President Arlen Gartner, the mill came through the fire and a restoration period with flying colors.

“The mill is in really good shape,” Gartner said. “Right now, it’s as good as it’s been in a long time.”

An early morning fire on Jan. 13 that was officially ruled arson, burned holes through the east side of the structure and compromised some of the beams on the inside and left soot throughout.

The repair was a painstaking process for a community that loves its landmark, but Gartner assures the public the mill is solid, it’s safe and it once again graces downtown Kenmare with a fresh coat of paint like it has for more than 50 years.

The cost to get it back to prominence was $29,814.32, according to Gartner.

“After the fire, we repainted the whole mill,” he said. “We replaced all the electrical so it can be used for picnics and the like.”

He added the electrical supply includes the installation of motion lights in the event of suspicious activity.

A cost breakdown included $1,787.18 that went to Farmers Union Lumber for materials, $6,941.66 to Gravesen Electric to replace the electrical supply, Max Power Blasting was the big expense at $18,850 but included an entire blasting of the soot on the inside of the mill, $187.50 to Modern Woodworks for Danish Mill boards and $2,900 to Steve Johnson for windows and other items.

The income, according to Gartner, came up short. Insurance reimbursements totaled $19,715.52 and donations came to $4,008, leaving a shortfall of $6,090.80.

But then a late donation by Farmers Union Oil Co., of Kenmare brought the deficit closer to zero. General Manager Rick Harris presented a check to Gartner for $5,000.

So with a deficit of approximately $1,000, Gartner is hoping additional donations could be secured to zero out the renovation cost.

In addition, Gartner said a $5,500 reward remains in effect for arrest and conviction of the person(s) who lit the mill on fire on that early January morning.

“Hopefully this never happens again,” he said. “Still, we have that $5,500 reward in case someone knows something and wants to tell us.”

Because of the fire, Gartner said the mill will most likely be locked up during the winter months from now on. If winter tourists want to go inside the mill, they would have to track down one of the park board members to open it up for them.

Since the Danish Mill has now made a full recovery, the park board is adding some playground equipment to the south side of the Downtown Square to enhance the park.

“We will remove some of the trees on the south side and put down rubberized mats,” Gartner said. “This will give the kids something to do.”

A bit of history

Danish immigrant Christian Jensen built the mill on his homestead 11 miles north of Kenmare in 1902.

In the mid-1950s the mill was in dilapidated condition and in danger of being demolished. Bernard Larsen, owner of a feed and seed company in Kenmare, purchased the mill for $200 to save it from destruction. Larsen later turned over ownership to the Kenmare Association of Commerce.

The Danish Mill was moved into town in 1958 with a restoration completed in 1961.

In 1965, the mill was moved again to its present location in the Downtown Square... Read EVERY WORD on EVERY PAGE of The Kenmare News by subscribing--online or in print!