Heideman Mill, Old Mill
Destroyed by fire, 1958.
(1868 - 1900) Wheat
(1868 - 1928) Corn
(1868 - 1900) Feed
(1968 - 1900) Buckwheat
(1867 - 1868)
Christian Heidemann (1867 - 1900)
Henry Heidemann (1900 - 1956)
Independent developer (1956 - 1958)
1934: Historic American Buildings Survey
History of the Mill
Christian Heidemann was born in Rodmaldt, Germany, in 1847. He and his family were among the first to arrive in Addison Township of DuPage County, settling on 39 acres in Section 20 of what is now the town of Addison. As a trained craftsman (a cabinet maker by trade), farmer, and son of a miller, Heidemann enthusiastically aided the construction of Fischer’s mill in Elmhurst and examined Emminga’s Custom mill in Golden. After taking notes and sketches of these two mills, Heidemann began to build his own after completing Fischer’s.
Construction on the Heidemann mill began in May of 1867. Like Emminga, Heidemann used local resources to build his windmill, which undoubtedly helped to speed the construction process (unlike Fischer, for example, whose construction was delayed as he made alterations to a prefabricated Dutch kit), and thus most of the mill was made of oak and pine. With Heidemann’s knowledge and the help of at least nine workers, the construction of the mill was both swift and smooth; the only delay in construction occurred in Heidemann’s shipment of the 18” thick, 6’ diameter grinding stones from France. The mill was completed in January of 1868 at a final cost of $5008.10.
Certain design features from the other local mills are evident in Heidemann’s design. The sails, cap, winch, bolting machine, grain elevators, gears, and even the gear locations, are all virtually identical to Fischer’s mill. The windows, stage, and wing buildings resemble those of the Custom mill. Unlike either mill, however, Heidemann had a more reliable iron wind shaft installed.
The mill began grinding wheat, buckwheat, corn, and feed; when Christian’s son Henry took control of the mill’s operation in 1900, only corn was ground, probably because of the low profits from wheat farming in Illinois. The mill stopped grinding altogether in 1928 when the last of its stones cracked apart. In spite of its disuse, the Heidemann family chose not to destroy the windmill but to preserve it. Other than one damaged sail, the mill did not suffer any critical damage during these years.
The Heidemann family was once asked if the windmill could be temporarily put on display in Chicago for the 1933 World’s Fair “Dutch Village”. The family was promised that great care would be taken in relocating the mill and, when returned, the mill would be restored; however, the family refused. One year later, the landmark windmill was registered by the Historic American Buildings Survey.
Like many outlying farm areas in Chicagoland, Addison was beginning to develop into a suburban town through subdivisions of the land and the erection of new homes. In 1956, the Heidemann farm was bought by a developer who promised to preserve the mill and incorporate it into a neighborhood park. Unfortunately, in 1958 mischievous children entered the mill through a trap door in one of the wing buildings and set the mill on fire. The ruins of the Heidemann windmill were cleared, and new homes were built in its place.
Some years later money was raised to install an historical marker on the approximate location of the mill on the corner of Sharon and Ronald drives, about 300’ east of Mill Road. As part of Addison's hometown improvements, the windmill’s image appears in Addison's entrance signs, water towers, and downtown street signs.
Pirola, Louis. Historic American Buildings Survey. Heideman Mill, Addison IL. Chicago: HABS, 1934.
Vierling, Philip E. The Fischer Windmill. Chicago: Illinois Country Outdoor Guides, 1994.
“Windward ho!” Addison Press. 26 June 1998.
1874 Combination Atlas of DuPage County
Addison, Village of Friendship. Addison: Addison Centennial Commission, 1984.
Article image from the Chicago Daily News, April 28, 1934
The Heidemann Windmill in 1934.
Photo from the Historic American Buildings Survey