Old Grist Mill Tavern hopes to open in fall

It's been one year since a truck crash caused the fire that destroyed the Old Grist Mill Tavern in Seekonk.

The charred remains of the restaurant left many in the area dumbstruck.

"It looked like a bomb went off," said Aaron Britto, a worker for the restaurant. "It was kind of devastating. It was almost like losing a friend."

Now along with chirping birds, there's the distinct sound of men at work, lifting the mill from the ashes.

"It's been here a long time," said restaurant owner Greg Esmay. "The town of Seekonk has only been here 200 years and the Grist Mill predates that by quite a bit."

Esmay said the mill was first running around 1738. At about 275 years old, he wanted to make sure it was rebuilt. Esmay hired a construction company of course, but tavern staff also helped out.

"A lot of the opportunities I've had in life have come from working at the Grist Mill and I think being part of the rebuild process is kind of cool," Britto said.

"I'm working here for 22 years," Nivaldo Eserela said. "So I got to help."

There've been many obstacles this last year.

From making sure the recreation of the building meets current standards to getting a permit to rebuild on a protected waterway, they did it.

"It was very important to put it back and put it back the way it was," Esmay said.

He made sure they salvaged the same stone and wood from the building if they could. They also uncovered a few mill secrets, including an old turbine that might have been put in during the 1800s.

Esmay hopes to put the turbine on display when he's finished fixing the restaurant.

"It deserves to be put back the way it was," he said.

By fall, they hope the hammering is replaced by the sound of clinking of dishes, conversation and families enjoying the water views.

So the Old Grist Mill Tavern can continue to serve those in Seekonk like it's done for centuries.