Freeman’s Mill Park isn’t your typical Gwinnett County park that features things like miles of running or biking trails or have a dog park within it. It has something unique that most parks don’t have, a well-preserved historic mill that dates back to the late 19th century.
Located in eastern Lawrenceville, Freeman’s Mill Park is on a very small 12 acres compared some of the other Gwinnett parks with vast open meadows on their grounds. The basic idea for this park seems to have been to purchase the mill land in order to keep it preserved and to add a few small amenities to it so residents can come and view it.
- 12 acres
- Restored historic gristmill
- 0.5-mile paved multi-purpose trail
The Park Through Pictures
Upon entering Freeman’s Mill Park you are greeted with a engraved stone sign guiding you into the park’s only entrance. If you can tell from my other park reviews, I really like it when a park has a custom sign apart from the generic teal signage.
After entering you can get a brief glimpse of the playground below, along with a reminder of where the funding for Gwinnett County parks come from.
Freeman’s Mill has a small parking lot with a restroom facility in the middle. To the right of this facility is playground; down the hill and to the left is the historic mill.
Let’s head down the hill and check out the mill for which this park is named, although in the past the mill has also been known as Alcovy Mill or Swann’s Mill.
First you are greeted with the mill house where all of the grain was processed.
The mill was used up until 1996, so I’m not sure how old some of the items left behind actually are.
Around the back of the mill house a paved trail takes you the mill itself.
An old stone bridge leads up to the side of the mill house.
Behind the mill house is the Alcovy River that was used to power the mill.
If you head up the river a bit you will come to a peaceful little grotto where a small dam and waterfall make for a very peaceful spot.
I really like this orange color that is painted on half of the stone dam.
Let’s head back up to the playground area.
The playground has two separate area next to each other, one for older kids and one for younger kids. Both playgrounds are surrounded by a super spongy material on the ground to soften any blows should someone fall.
I love how the older kids playground was designed to look like a mill.
The small children’s play area.
There is a small half-mile paved trail surrounding most of Freeman’s Mill Park. Definitely not enough for any serious runner to consider, but I can see how it would make a good place to go and walk some laps. It has a bit of a hill to contend with towards the playground area.
The History of Freeman’s Mill Park
The mill that is now known as Freeman’s Mill was built after the Civil War ended. The best estimates put that between 1868 an 1879. It was constructed by the Loveless brothers, John and Levi, and remained in their ownership and care until it was purchased by W. Scott Freeman and his son in 1913.
Although Mr. Freeman and his only owned the mill for around two years, when they sold it to Newt Pharr, the mill was operated by the Freeman family until it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in the late 1990s. Throughout that time, ownership of the mill changed once more when it was purchased by Lewis Swann in 1946. The mill was still working and used up until 1996.
In 2002, Gwinnett County purchased the land and mill, but it wasn’t until 2009 that the property was restored and developed into a park where residents could come to look at a piece of Gwinnett’s agricultural history.
Summary of Freeman’s Mill Park
Although Freeman’s Mill Park is one of the smallest parks in Gwinnett, it has some lovely and unique scenery on it when compared to other Gwinnett parks.
If I have to tag this park with whom I think it is best suited for, I come up with two different types of people.
First, this park is great for families with children. Although the playground at Freeman’s Mill isn’t the largest, it was one of the least crowded I’ve seen. Since the park is not on any major thoroughfare and kind of tucked away to the side of Lawrenceville, not many people take their kids there. I also really like the soft surface used to surround the playground for the added safety.
I think the mill could be a great teaching tool for children to learn a bit about how food was prepared in the past.
The small grotto with the waterfall is also a nice little place where you can put some little feet in and let them splash around a bit.
Second, this park is great for photographers. The main reason I wanted to come to Freeman’s Mill to check it out was because North Georgia photographer Mark Hewatt (twitter) had published his own pictures of Freeman’s Mill.
The old mill house and rusted mill make for some good places to shoot. There is a lot of old stonework around the mill house. The waterfall and grotto are very photogenic as well. Photographer’s sidenote: I regret not having a ND filter to be able to take longer exposures to get the waterfall the smooth out nicely.
Even if you don’t fall into those two categories, I think you should visit Freeman’s Mill Park at least once to see the mill and waterfall.
Psst. Business Owners. Get your location added to the Gwinnett Location Listing Directory