First up was Kerr Mill in the Millbridge area of Rowan County. Now part of Sloan Park and open to the public, this grist mill was built in 1823 by Samuel Kerr, a physician and one of the county's largest slave owners, having 51 slaves at his plantation nearby. He was also one of the richest men in all of North Carolina having an estimated worth of $400,000 in 1860 which would be close to $10,800,000 today.
Kerr Mill was one of the ways that Dr. Kerr showed off his wealth. Of the 22 grist mills in Rowan County in the nineteenth century, this was the only one that was built from brick, an expensive proposition in its time. The mill produced flour at a monthly profit of $9,750 which added to his wealth.
The mill passed down through Dr. Kerr's family until the late 1800's when it was sold off to an outside investor. By the 1940's it was no longer operating as mill, but as storage space for its owner who then sold it to Rowan County in 1973 along with enough acreage to create Sloan Park.
The mill houses a tiny museum of Early American artifacts from families in the area and the water wheel has been restored (I saw a 1988 photo where the mill had no water wheel) and is working with water diverted from a nearby stream.