Landmark Mill gets hallmark sign

Business. The Mill has new, eye-catching lettering on it, in keeping with how signage was done years ago.

11 Nov 2019 | 12:42

The Mill, which houses a number of antique businesses in the hamlet, last week painted 40-foot lettering onto its facade, in keeping with days of old when signs were painted right onto buildings.

“We had been toying with the idea of branding the premises,” Kihlstrom said. “The idea had been kicking around for about 10 years," said Donald Kihlstrom, one of partners who owns The Mill.

A few years ago, when he was put on the Economic Development Committee, the notion of the sign came to him.

“I even used pictures of a barn in the town from 1822 with an entire side painted," Kihlstrom said. "It was too big, but showed the history of painting on barns.”

Kihlstrom and his partners chose Gravity Design as they had seen his work with antique signage and knew of his creativity.

“You can't attract a modern customer with outdated signage," Kihlstrom said. "...The antique business has changed a lot and we're not dealing with the customers we were a few decades ago.”

Gravity Design's Mark Maruska said his original assignment, which started in October of 2017, was to produce some new signs for the antique center.

"Don had also been by my studio on Spring Street and had seen what we did with our building on the exterior," Maruska. "The giant 262 painted on the building, inspired what would ultimately become the final result."

Maruska said that “one of our mantras is to disturb people. That in itself sounds disturbing but it is the goal of what we do here. If we can disturb someone's attention, even for a second look, we have done our job."

Designs were created on the computer and transposed to the photos of the actual building via Photoshop Magic.

“It gives us a chance to see what the end result is really going to look like and it gives the client a chance to provide necessary feedback and make adjustments,” Maruska said. “Once the design has been formalized we were able to build a template to work from.”

The project was ready to go, and once the approval came, the actual lettering job only took two days.

“That was thanks to the help of Bob and Denise, a couple who do a lot of work around the Mill and own their very own manlift,” Maruska said. “They were key on the first day of the process, as using a lift greatly cuts down time of climbing up and down a ladder. I was joined the second day by my counterpart Werner Foster to wrap the final bit.”

The Mill is already a landmark, but this signage took it to another level.

“It's bold, it draws your eye, and it creates an even more profound landmark for Lafayette," Maruska said. "This will be the backdrop for many selfies to come and for the social posts that people share all over our world. I think that it may have been difficult for some of the committee members to buy into this idea of the giant lettering, but it will become part of Lafayette history as much as any of the other history there.”

“We're in the historic district so wanted a sign that would preserve the rustic nature but also show that rural doesn't mean unsophisticated,” Kihlstrom said. “Mark created just that and we couldn't be happier.”

Gravity Design is based in Newton. The Mill is the centerpiece of the antique section of Lafayette.