People Saving Places Through Preservation
2020 Award of Merit Recipient
Rob Grassi award for Category 5, Preservationist of The Year, was presented by NCL Board Director Michael Pratt. His remarks, “On behalf of Napa County Landmarks, I am pleased to announce that Rob Grassi is this year’s recipient of the Award of Merit for Preservationist of the Year. The Award is given periodically to honor individuals who have made an extraordinary contribution to the preservation of historic resources.
Rob is responsible for the maintenance of Bothe-Napa Valley State Park and Bale Grist Mill, built in 1846. A miller and millwright, Rob apprenticed under Charles Howell at Phillipsburg Manor in Tarrytown, New York and subsequently served as Chief Millwright at the Hanford Mills Museum in East Meredith, New York. During his three-decade career, Rob has worked on mills in Canada and all across the United States, including biennial stints at George Washington’s Mt. Vernon gristmill. Prominent in his area of expertise, Rob has served on the board of the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills and is a member of the International Molinological Society.
Rob’s current project is the painstaking restoration of the 36-foot diameter water wheel that powers Bale Grist Mill. This labor of love is critical to the operation of the mill. Additionally, Rob regularly sharpens the mill stones used to grind grains at the mill. Using traditional methods and hand tools, Rob is able to sharpen each stone in 2 to 3 days. Rob’s work ensures that one of Napa County’s most valuable historic resources can continue to operate and fulfill its important educational and cultural mission.
The Board of Directors of Napa County Landmarks would also like to express its appreciation for Rob’s gracious and valuable support of its Vintage Trailer events at Bothe from 2015 through 2017.
In addition to his work on historic gristmills, Rob has a deep appreciation for history and its impact on living culture. He is a fine guitarist and mandolinist specializing in Old Time music.
His passion for bringing the past to life through his profession and avocation make Rob Grassi a worthy recipient of Preservationist of the Year.”