IOWA CITY — An iconic music venue met its end on Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022, as a demolition crew razed The Mill, a mainstay in Iowa City since 1962.
Owner Marc Moen plans to build a new performance venue on the site, at 120 E. Burlington St.
“While we cannot preserve the old structure of the Mill, we will carry forward its values and build a venue that nurtures the local arts culture, acts as a community gathering space, and attracts up and coming national performers,” Moen said in a statement.
Preservationists and other advocates had tried to save The Mill after it closed in 2020, but those efforts fell through.
Keith Dempster opened The Mill in 1962 as a coffee house, restaurant and folk music venue, moving to its “new” Burlington Street location 10 years later. The Mill closed briefly in June 2003, but reopened under new owners Marty Christensen and Dan Ouverson just one month later.
Among the many celebrated local musicians who have performed inside the acoustically friendly setting of The Mill were Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, Joe Price, David Zollo and Pieta Brown.
Writers, presidential hopefuls and other luminaries also passed through its doors during The Mill’s storied history.
Alicia Trimble, owner of Three Cottages Historic Preservation Consulting and Rehabilitation, found the building started as an automobile dealership, Nall Chevrolet, in 1928, before becoming Chief Motor Sales in 1934. It went through a series of other car-related businesses before being used as the Montgomery Ward Farm Store from 1941 to 1962, and later finding new life as The Mill.
People in need of shelter used the building after it closed, and trash and graffiti left it as a shell of its former days as a vibrant site of live music performances, political events and socializing.
See more photos from the final days of The Mill, below: