This lot was part of the Willard waterpower privilege on the Mousam River. Samuel Willard and three others built a dam with a fall of eight feet and a sawmill between 1755 and 1761 just down river from this reserve. Sometime afterwards he built a bridge over the Mill Pond for a road that led to Alfred before the section of Route 4 between School Street and Route 109 was constructed. At first it was a toll bridge. In the spring of 1862 the sawmill burned and was rebuilt along with a grist mill. Several generations of Willards and relatives lived in the vicinity.
The sawmill was in a dilapidated condition when the Jagger brothers bought the mill from Otis Willard and others in 1904. That year, the Jaggers rebuilt the dam on the former site as well as a factory. The dam was carried away in the mid 1950’s by a flood on the river. Since then the mill has been used for a variety of other purposes. The bridge itself was removed sometime in the late 1960’s. The abutments and approaches remain in place today.
In 1964 Richard and Joan Moroney purchased the property above the old mill because the Willard barn was large enough and so constructed, that Richard could work during the winters on the hull of his Olympic Star Class sailboat. Hence the name for this property.
The present-day floodplain found here actually was the bottom of Willard / Jagger Mill Pond created by the dam. The footprint of this pond can be seen in the marshy ground along the river all the way upstream to School Street. This wetland and adjacent riparian area provides habitats for a wide range of plants and animals. The shrubby nature of parts of this reserve may possibly serve as habitat for the New England cottontail rabbit, a vanishing species. Easy access to this site means it will support outdoor classroom activities for the schools and public.
Intersecting sewer line easements and a part of the old Willard Road create a looping trail that can be used by residents of Patriots Lane and the area. Access to and from the Sanford River Water Trail is possible at this location. Fishing is possible from the abutments of the former bridge.