The Old Mill in North Little Rock is one of the most iconic pieces of history and art in the state of Arkansas. The mill is most famous for being featured in the opening credits of the film, “Gone with the Wind.” In fact, it is said to be the only remaining structure from the film.
Even though it is located in North Little Rock we have included the Old Mill in our bucket list of things to do in Little Rock. It is definitely worth crossing the Arkansas River to see!
Contrary to what you might think, the Old Mill was never actually a working grist mill. Instead it is a combination art installation and historical recreation.
It also provides one of the most gorgeous photographic opportunities in the state. This place is highly photogenic and instagrammable. You will definitely want to bring your camera or phone for photos.
You will often see locals here having photos taken for special occasions.
The Old Mill in North Little Rock is beautiful in all seasons but is particularly lovely in the spring when the azaleas and dogwoods are blooming.
Location of The Old Mill in North Little Rock
The old mill is located in a residential area of the city of North Little Rock. You will find it in the 3 acre T.R. Pugh Memorial Park, at 3800 Lakeshore Dr. on the corner of Fairway Avenue and Lakeshore Drive.
The park and mill are free and open to the public. This is a restful place to bring a book or to simply enjoy the lovely gardens and scenery.
The opening hours are from 8:00AM until sunset.
History of The Old Mill
Why in the world is there a recreation of an 1880’s water-powered grist mill in a neighborhood in North Little Rock, Arkansas?
It all started with a man named Justin Matthews. He developed two of the most historic neighborhoods in North Little Rock, the Park Hill and the Lakewood subdivisions.
Mr. Matthews was a visionary who was in the process of developing more neighborhoods as well as creating a series of recreational lakes. He had a rough and difficult piece of property that was not suited for building homes so he decided to use this land to create an attraction that would encourage buyers to his new development.
Although construction started in 1932 the designers and architects wanted the Old Mill in North Little Rock look as if it were built in the 1800’s. In fact they wanted it to appear as if it were not only old, but had fallen into disrepair.
It was constructed without doors and windows in order to make it seem as if it the old mill had been abandoned. In this way it would match the real water mills in the state that were no longer being used by the 1930’s.
The build was completed and dedicated on August 6, 1933.
The Artwork of The Old Mill in North Little Rock
Most importantly the mill features the work of the Mexican artist Dionicio Rodriguez.
Rodriguez was known for a style of folk art called “faux bois” which means false or fake wood. He created concrete structures that appeared to be made of wood. You can see his work in the bridges and benches.
Many of the designs at the mill that appear to be made of wood are actually made of concrete.
Although you might think that these designs would look heavy they actually have a whimsical appearance. The concrete branches that make up the bridge railings swoop and move and twist and turn just like the branches in nature.
The artwork in the park is enchanting.
In addition to his work in Arkansas Dionicio Rodriguez also created art in Texas, Tennessee, Michigan, New York, and New Mexico.
It is said that he did not keep records of his methods and that he never worked with written plans.
Even so, the work of Mr. Rodriguez is so detailed and beautiful that one can often identify the species of tree represented in his work. You will see wormholes, peeling bark, and signs of decay just like in a natural tree or fallen branch.
The Old Mill Today
Justin Matthews gave The Old Mill as a gift to the city of North Little Rock in May of 1976.
In 1986 it was nationally recognized and protected by being placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Old Mill in North Little Rock is a highlight for visitors and locals alike. It is open and free to the public from 8:00 AM to sunset for visiting.
It is also a great place for all ages. Children love seeing the mill and scrambling across the bridges and older visitors can enjoy the scenery from a comfortable bench.
A certain section with lovely views may even be reserved for micro weddings (under 20 people). However, even during weddings the park stays open to the public.
There are public restrooms on one end of the park.
You can join the Friends of the Old Mill if you are interested in volunteering alongside the North Little Rock Parks and Recreation Department to improve and maintain the integrity and beauty of T.R Pugh Memorial Park and The Old Mill.
I hope that you enjoy your visit to The Old Mill. It is one of our favorite places in Arkansas!
You might want to check out this post which has information about the parks and outdoor activities in Little Rock.
Thanks for stopping by!