Here are some of the ways the Kent mill could be used

Photo by Brad Bolton

The Star of the West Flour Mill is a massive part of the downtown Kent skyline, but it hasn’t operated since 2017. 

Shifting commodities trends have left vacant mills and factories littered across the U.S. over the past century. As the abandoned buildings posed a problem for cities fighting urban blight, developers began restoring and repurposing the sturdy brick buildings for museum, residential and commercial use. The conversions often preserve or restore the historic structures and bring new life to the buildings and their neighborhoods.

Here are just a few examples of the possibilities below. Thanks to Portager reader Jen Mapes for inspiring this article and sharing some of her photos from mill visits with us.

This grain elevator-turned-rustic hotspot

The Hayden Granary in Hayden, Colorado, now hosts a coffee shop, pizza shop, winery and Airbnb.

The winery at Hayden Granary. Photo courtesy of Tammie Delaney
The coffee shop in Hayden Granary, located in the former grain elevator’s office/feed and grain shop. Photo Courtesy of Jen Mapes

This Colorado micro-brewery

The Old Colorado Brewing Company in Wellington, Colorado, operates in a historic grain elevator. Renovations to the structure maintained the industrial charm, and glass ceiling panels give a view into the elevator tower.

Photo courtesy of Jen Mapes
Old walls remain exposed at the Old Colorado Brewing Co./Jen Mapes

This artist hub in a Pillsbury mill

The Pillsbury A-Mill was converted by a developer into the A-Mill Artist Lofts. The space is marketed for artists and utilizes the building’s industrial structure to stock kilns, workshops, dance studios and gallery spaces.

Photo via A-Mill Artist Lofts
Photo via A-Mill Artist Lofts

This mill mall in Washington

Converted in 1974, the Flour Mill in Spokane, Washington, holds shops and restaurants, and has been a major draw for the city for years. You can find more photos of the dining and shopping setup on Google reviews here.

Photo via

And finally: this futuristic design concept

OK, so this one is mostly for fun, but check out this concept by Chicago-based design company Epstein for the “adaptive reuse” of a silo:

Rendering of adaptive design concept via Epstein Global
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Natalie Wolford is managing editor at The Portager. A native of Randolph, she studied film in New York City and is producing a feature-length documentary about her aunt, a small-town journalist.