The Hayden Flour Mill: It’s one of the most significant pieces of history in the city of Tempe, AZ. The Hayden Flour Mill sits at the SE corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado parkway and is considered by many to be a major part of the “Gateway to Mill Avenue.” Sitting just below A Mountain on Mill Avenue and near the shores of Tempe Town Lake, the Hayden Mill stands as a reminder of the very early days of our city, where hard work and dedication created the amazing place we call home a couple of hundred years later.
Here’s a look at what appears to be next for the Mill. A grand hotel and outdoor concert space is being designed for the next phase of these historic buildings. Check it out!
Some History of the Hayden Flour Mill:
Yes, the Hayden Flour Mill is how we got the name of our very famous street known as Mill Avenue. As it stands, the Hayden Flour Mill is the oldest cast-in-place, reinforced concrete building in the city of Tempe. The old mill you see today is not the original mill. Two previous mills have burned and have been resurrected, and the mill we see today is the third building built on the original site. The original Hayden Flour Mill began operations in 1874.
The Hayden Flour Mill functioned as a working mill until April 01, 1998, when Bay State Milling stopped operation, ending the longest run of continuous use for an industrial building in the Valley. People brought wheat, corn and other grain to the mill to be processed. Flour from the mill was sold locally and around the country. At one point in time, the Hayden Flour Mill produced approximately 96 bushels per hour or approximately 100,000 lbs of flour per day. The silos at the mill are 112 feet tall.
“Hayden Flour Mill is a relic of our agricultural past, when Tempe was a small town surrounded by miles of farmland and anchored, economically, by the processing and marketing of grain, cotton, fruit, vegetable, and dairy products.” – City of Tempe
Once the mill was shut down in 1998, it eventually became somewhat of a blighted eyesore as she was boarded up, fenced and stripped of some of her iconic glory that many residents of Tempe had grown to love. Over the years there have been a couple of ambitious developers come up with plans to redevelop the historic mill and surrounding area but nothing has come to fruition.
Check out this cool video of the Hayden Flour Mill for more information:
The city of Tempe, along with help from Mayor Hallman, the Rio Salado Foundation, and some key donations from other public and private groups, has recently brought down the ugly fences, cleaned up the site and added some trees, landscaping and signage to help restore the beauty of the site and create an awesome public space. This space is a temporary event venue, as the city of Tempe continues to look for development partners to do something special with the historic Hayden Flour Mill and silos. Because of the efforts of many, the grounds of the Hayden Flour Mill are now open for picnics and casual recreation. The new Flour Mill site includes the opportunity for people to look through the ground floor windows of the Mill and see some of the equipment that was used during operations of the mill. Interpretive plaques outside of the structure help explain what can be seen, as well as sharing some of the important history of the mill and the surrounding area. A stage and concert lawn for approximately 250 people has been built for concerts, gatherings and fun activities and a small grove of trees allows for shady picnics.
See photos of the historic Hayden Flour Mill in the slideshow below:
A Fresh Start after years of neglect:
The Downtown Tempe Community currently programs the space and it can be rented for special events after the Sept. 20 grand opening. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how to reserve dates and costs.
More work needs to be done to finish the project. Donations may be given to the Rio Salado Foundation. Contact the group at www.supportriosalado.org for more information. ( Update: that link no longer works )
*Update: There was a dedication ceremony and grand opening event at the Hayden Flour Mill on October 5th.
The Hayden Flour Mill is located right across from the light rail station at Mill Avenue. Just step off of the train platform and look north, you can’t miss the mill.
View Phoenix Valley METRO Light Rail Map in a larger map
Do yourself a favor and make a nice trip out of your visit to the mill. Often, my family and I will jump on the train, head to Mill and hike Hayden Butte which is known around here as “A mountain.” After our hike / stroll up the mountain, we check out the mill and head to Tempe Beach Park. This activity typically ends with a visit to a local restaurant or ice cream shop. Believe me, it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours in downtown Tempe.
Don’t forget to check out the Hayden Flour Mill on Facebook, too!