Billy Gibson grew up on South Street in West Winfield, across from the building known as The Mill.
For 33 years, Wendall Saunders of Plainfield owned the building he had renovated into office space for several businesses in the village. Earlier this year he sold the building to people who appreciate its history and his work to give it new life: Billy and his wife, Samantha.
The Gibsons take over a building built in 1912 that began life as a feed mill and still has one of the original tenants since Saunders opened it for rent in summer 1990. Gibson, owner of Upstate Foam Installation next to The Mill, said purchasing the building allows them to be sure businesses stay in the village.
“Wendall’s vision was as an office building,’’ Gibson said. “We didn’t want to see someone buy it and make it into something else.’’
In 1969 Saunders began his own construction company, W.E. Saunders. In the early days he ran it out of his home in Plainfield on Frost Hill, where he also raised draft horses.
“I started to look for something downtown for an office,’’ Saunders said. “I figured I could do something with this. I thought a business and professional building would do well there.’’
For the first 50 years of its life, The Mill operated as a feed mill owned first by John Watkins and then his son, Stanley. Watkins Farm Road runs off the corner of South Street and Burrows Road near The Mill.
Various feed companies then followed, with the building being used for storage when Saunders bought it.
Before any business, including his own, could move in, Saunders did a complete gutting…