For an overview, see the article of March 29, 2015, in the Santa Fe New Mexican here.

Update as of October 1st, 2017

To All St Vrain Mill Foundation Members and Supporters,

Even though only a few months have passed since our membership meeting, a lot has been happening and I wanted to bring you up to date, especially for those of you who don’t live in the Mora area and don’t have a chance to see what’s going on.

The most significant development is the signing of the contract to stabilize the Mill’s north foundation by means of injecting a quick-setting, expanding grout under the foundation.  This approach was recommended by Engineering Analytics, our engineering consultants.  The contractor is Hayward Baker, out of Colorado.  In order to save money, we extended the completion date until March 31, 2018  and allowed Hayward Baker to choose when they could do the work.  There is actually no problem doing this work in the winter and that being their slow time anyway, it works out well for both of us.

The overall cost of the project is on the order of $90,000.  We have $30,000 in our construction account, and have arranged  to borrow $60,000 from individuals in the Mora area.  The repayment of these loans (10 years duration) will be covered by the pledged donations many of you committed to last year.  Once the grout work is done, we will turn our attention to the wall repair, but that is clearly next year’s project.

We have completed the “coyote”  fence along the west property boundary which offers our neighbors to the west a bit of privacy.  See photo attached.  We have brought power to the property but not directly into the building and have installed an outdoor water hydrant.  Both were necessary to support the construction work.  By running an extension cord into the Mill, we have power for lights and our own repair projects.  We will build an extension to the fence so the power box and hydrant will not be visible from the street.

We have also received a donation for the specific purpose of replacing the wooden front door.  A local craftsman did the work and did an excellent job making a practically exact replica of the original, only studier.  We will keep the original door on display as it is covered in pencil notes regarding numbers of bags of corn, etc –  part of the accounting system back then.

We had the Mill open for visitors on Saturday and Sunday of  Labor Day weekend, maybe 30 -40 people dropped by each day, many were just driving by and wanted to see inside.  We also offered up the Mill as the site of the Punkin Patch for the Mora Fall Fest.

Mora experienced a 3.2 magnitude earthquake early Friday morning.  I have joked about the need to do the foundation stabilization because who knows when we might get an earthquake.  At least I thought I was joking.  However, the Mill north wall is still standing, no problem.

The Foundation has over 100 supporting members as of today.  We feel gratified that so many of you have confidence in us and support our efforts.  However, we noticed that there are some members from 2016 that have not continued their membership in 2017.  Since we know our cause is good and just, the only explanation is that those members simply haven’t gotten around to renewing.  So if you are one of those folks, please renew your membership for 2017.

Thank you all for being a part of “Saving the Mill”.
Merl Witt, President, St Vrain Mill Preservation and Historical Foundation

June 24, 2017 – 1pm
Mora, New Mexico
St. Vrain Mill Annual Meeting and open house. Meet at the mill.

1:00 p.m.—Annual Member Meeting
Silent Auction Items
1:40 p.m.—Short Reading by Gloria Zamora Meet and talk to Gloria who lived in Las Agui-tas with her grandparents, as a young child, and wrote about living in a small rural northern New Mexico community in Sweet Nata.
Talk to prize-winning local author, Malcolm Ebright, about his new article Making Water Run Uphill and his other books on land grants and acequia rights.
Both authors will have books for sale
Light Refreshments

January 25, 2017

Message from Merl Witt:

Since most but not all of us have been involved in a bunch of stuff, thought I would take a minute to get everyone on the same page again. First, our scheduled meeting last week with the NM Senators’ staffers was postponed. Michele came down with a bug or something. However, our meeting with Beverley Spears and her team went well. Beverley is proposing a steel plate to be placed above the stone walls on either side that runs from the north wall to several feet beyond the cracks. She believes this would tie the North wall to the rest of the structure and eliminate the need for the foundation grouting. She will draw up the specs but I would need a second and third opinion on that. She also seems to have come around to the idea that all the roof really needs, and not right now, is new metal and replacement of any damaged wood. No need to re-deck the whole thing.

The basic decision we are facing is: do we do the structural repairs before doing anything else, or do we do some other things like power, second egress that will allow us to use the Mill to a limited extent while we get the resources to do the big buck items. Without the USDA loan, we may not be able to do the former for some time anyway. When I was in Abq a couple weeks ago, I met with the USDA CFP manager, Kathy Pfiffner. I wanted to be reassured our proposed end use was indeed sufficient, and it is. Our payback capability may be the issue. Beverley will have the schematics and cost info to us maybe by the end of next week so we can proceed with the USDA loan application, and Christine can do the same with the DAR grant application. It looks like windows and any front door work would fit the DAR grant best.

I had a pleasant experience Saturday. Christine St Vrain-Fischahs was invited to make a presentation on Ceran St Vrain to the End of Trail Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association. She invited me to attend and a make a pitch about the Mill and our efforts. We will get a few new members for sure. One of whom is a lady named Faye Gaines, a SFTA Director, 90 years old, lives at Point of Rocks(about 30 miles from anywhere) and was on the committee that got the Mill in the NM endangered places list. She also said Ceran St Vrain is her hero. She is very interested in our progress and may well become a very effective ”booster” for our cause.

November 6, 2016

“Save the Saint Vrain Mill”
Overview: In 2013, several members of the Mora community established The Saint Vrain Mill Preservation and Historical Foundation for the specific purpose of buying and restoring the St Vrain Mill in Mora. The mill was successfully purchased for a total price of $27,000. We are soliciting membership in the Foundation as well as donations because attention has now shifted to the much larger and expensive task of restoration and adapting it to a community purpose.

About the Mill:
“The St. Vrain Mill in Mora, New Mexico was built in 1864 by Ceran St. Vrain. It is a stone structure and is the most dominant structure in Mora today. In 1972 the mill was added to the National Register of Historic Places and in 2002 it was added to the List of Ten Most Endangered Historical Places in New Mexico. The stone structure of the mill is 50 feet by 40 feet. It is three stories high with the third story being wood siding From “A Brief History of the St. Vrain Mill” by Ray Marchi,
available at 2016 will present significant challenges. We will need to raise considerably more money than last year if we are to continue repairs in a timely manner. There are sources of potential funding that are available to us now that we own the Mill. While we solicit and appreciate any financial support you can continue to give us, the most important thing you can do for the Foundation is help spread the word about our efforts and goals. We realize that supporting an effort such as ours requires a certain level of faith, especially if you are not directly involved in our day-to-day activities. Please go to our website for a financial overview that gives you an accounting of funds raised and significant expenditures.

About the Foundation:
The Saint Vrain Mill Preservation and Historical Foundation is a not for profit
corporation registered in New Mexico. It also has 501 (c) (3) federal tax-exempt status. While the Foundation’s current focus is on the Mill itself, its charter also provides for acquisition of other properties in Mora related to the life of Ceran St. Vrain. Membership in the Foundation is open to individuals, businesses and organizations.

For more information, contact Merl Witt (575) 387-5615,
Membership/Contribution – 2016
Name: __________________________________________
Mailing Address: ____________________________________________________
__ Annual Membership
__ $25 Individual/Family; __ $10 Student; __$20 Senior __$100 Business/Organization
__ Additional contribution
Mail to our address above, or visit our website and use PayPal. All contributions are tax deductible.


For full information, visit  and contribute to the renovation fund.


November 6, 2016

Message and good news from Merl Witt,
President, St Vrain Mill Preservation and Historical Foundation

To St Vrain Mill Foundation Members and Contributors.

There has been an unexpected development in our Mill stabilization and wall repair project.  USDA has asked us to expand the scope of the project to include the restoration of at least the first floor for use as a community facility.  Instead of a project of several steps over three or four years, they are encouraging us to take on a larger project with a completion date of two years or less.

We originally decided on a phased approach for a couple of reasons.  One was we weren’t sure what the community use or uses should be, and the other was we didn’t want to commit the Foundation to a large loan that may be difficult to repay. Since then, the idea of restoring the first floor into a cultural center featuring the history of the generational families of the Mora Valley has generated a great deal of support.   Also, while the new loan will be much larger, maybe twice as large, the repayment period can be up to 40 years instead of just ten, making the annual payments easier to handle.

We are working with an architect now to design the changes we will need to make to the building, such as handicap access and electrical service, and to come up with a total project cost.  Once that is in hand, we will submit a modified application to USDA.  The restoration of the second and third floors are not part of this proposal.

While we can expect a modest income stream from visitor donations, perhaps an admission fee, once the Mill is open to the public, cash flow and loan repayment will be a challenge.  USDA would like us to maintain a cash reserve to cover loan payments for the first several years while we continue to develop additional grant sources and expand support from the community.  While we don’t know just now what these reserves should be, we think with the anticipated membership fees, annual fundraisers, and most important, the pledges many of you submitted, we already have the ability to meet that requirement.

While our path to “Saving the Mill” will continue to have some twists and turns, the end goal is very clear, achievable, and worthwhile. We, the Foundation Board, thank all of you for your support, faith, and encouragement.


IMPORTANT: I have changed the place where visitors to this website can make and reply to comments. This became necessary because comments were made on the various pages and so they could not be tracked properly. Comments should now be made at the BOTTOM OF THE PAGE “FORUM & COMMENTS”, if you want other people to see them and reply (or directly to me at . I have disabled the comments feature on the other pages. The comments that you made on various pages in the past are in my personal log, I will try to shift them to the new page, but until then the old comments will remain on the page where they were originally made.

I reply directly to the comments by e-mail to the sender, as well as occasionally through this website. This is for purely practical reasons in managing the website.