Raye’s Mustard Mill is a working museum in the island community of Eastport, Maine, and the last remaining traditional stone ground mustard mill in North America. At the turn of the last century, when Raye’s Mustard Mill was built to supply mustard to the two dozen or so sardine canneries in Eastport and countless others along the coast of Maine, Eastport had a population of over 5,000. Today, all of Maine’s sardine canneries are gone, and Eastport has lost 75% of its population. But Raye’s Mustard Mill survives as a testament to the past.
In August 2017, Raye’s Mustard was named by MaineBiz Magazine as one of the “Top 10 Iconic Maine Products.” Fourth generation owners Karen and Kevin Raye are committed to maintaining one of the nation’s few intact and operating examples of Second Industrial Revolution manufacturing and a key tourist attraction drawing visitors to Down East Maine.
Each year, thousands of tourists from all 50 states and nations around the world visit the 115-year-old mill to see the production process first-hand, and enjoy a rare link to the past while learning about the history of mustard-making and its role in Maine’s bygone sardine industry. The mill is a major draw bringing visitors to eastern Washington County and providing a boost to local restaurants, lodging establishments and other tourism-related businesses in an economically disadvantaged county.The mill is a past recipient of the Maine Tourism Association’s Down East and Acadia Regional Tourism Award, and a visit to Raye’s Mustard Mill is ranked by tripadvisor.com as the #1 thing to do in Eastport, Maine.
The Museum is imperiled. A structural engineer’s review confirmed that the current aged mill, built in 1903, is in need of immediate restoration and preservation.
As fourth-generation owners Kevin & Karen Raye considered the future of their iconic small family business, they understood that America’s last traditional stone-ground mustard mill was endangered. Yes, the brand could continue on with the construction of a small modernized manufacturing facility to continue making mustard. Or the Rayes could sell the company to a new owner unlikely to share the Raye family’s commitment to maintaining jobs and a historic legacy in far Down East Maine. However, neither of those options would preserve the historic nature of the mill, its museum quality assets, and the vital tourism anchor that Raye’s Mustard Mill has become for the community.
With no children (other than the 4-legged kind), Kevin and Karen also needed a succession plan. They made a conscious decision that the plan must ensure the preservation of the history of Raye’s Mustard Mill, its unique stones and vintage machinery and artifacts, and its status as the last vestige of Maine’s once-proud sardine industry. They determined the historic last-of-its-kind mill must remain intact, alive and available to educate this and future generations, as well as preserve much-needed jobs and contribute to the economic well-being of Washington County.
Through many collaborations and much due diligence, the idea to formalize the mustard mill’s long-time status as an unofficial working museum was born and brought to fruition to ensure the last-of-its-kind mill is preserved and its historic and authentic manufacturing process can be experienced by visitors, tourists and students for generations to come.
Picture the possibilities. With the use of modern technology, students in classrooms across the country will be able to take a virtual tour of the Museum and see a rare example of Second Industrial Revolution machinery in operation. The Museum kitchen will provide nutrition classes and feature recipes using one of the world’s healthiest condiments. The Museum gift shop will feature local artisans. The Museum theatre, to be housed in an old rail car, will allow people to watch an educational video on the mill and its history. And the Museum envisions having much needed community space.
In order to fulfill this vision, and ensure that this one-of-a-kind mill remains in its original location, the plan is for the Museum to become its new owner, ensuring it remains in its historic location in Eastport, Maine.
At an estimated cost of $2 million, the architectural design will encompass the existing original production structure within a new building that will enhance the museum and provide visitors with a unique education on the history and authentic and nearly extinct process of traditional stone-ground mustard-making. After construction and renovation, the Museum will be self-supporting through a long-term operating agreement with J.W. Raye & Company, which will continue making mustard on-site using the age-old process.
This plan ensures the mustard-making tradition continues, and preserves jobs and a vital corner-stone of tourism that brings visitors to economically disadvantaged rural Washington County.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Donations can be mailed to Raye’s Mustard Mill Museum, P.O. Box 207, Eastport, Maine 04631, or made online at www.rayesmustardmillmuseum.org. Inquiries may be directed to the same address or to email@example.com
or call us at 207-853-6630.
Gifts will be appropriately acknowledged and recognized by donation level in the new Museum setting. For larger gifts, there will be naming opportunities available about which we will communicate directly with donors.
You can also contact us with a PLEDGE if you'd prefer.
Thank you for joining this effort to preserve the past and prepare for the future!
Raye's Mustard Mill Museum is a nonprofit public charity designated as tax-exempt under Section 501(c)3 by the Internal Revenue Service. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent permitted by law. Our tax ID is 82-1933597.