Fastforward to about two weeks ago, we were on our way to the new Selectos grocery store, which just happens to have been build on the property adjacent to that of the old mill. As we pulled into our parking spot, I happened to glance over at the property and saw that the gates were open! This is the first time I've seen them open, and we thought maybe we would mosey on over there after we were done with the grocery shopping. Wouldn't you know it, the gates were locked up tight when we came back outside.
Well today... it happened again. This time I immediately did a u-turn in the parking lot, and drove us right over there and through the gates as boldly as you please! There was a man standing next to one of the buildings and he looked friendly. I pulled up and asked if we could go take some photos. He said YES!!
Vives sugar ingenuity is one of the oldest existing structures related to the Puerto Rican sugar industry. It is located on the grounds of the old Hacienda Vives in the Machete neighborhood of Guayama, municipality located in the south of the island.
The complex consisted of two structures: a windmill and a processing plant. The truncated cone mill is 40 feet tall and 28 inches in diameter. The structure, which is located on a promontory north of the processor plant, had four levels built of wood. The sugar processing machinery was on the first level and operated by windmills, in turn, located on the fourth level. This space connected to the outside through four different arches.
The processor plant consisted of a 20 ' x 137 ' x 35 ', north-south-south-south warehouse. The closest part to the mill, where the boilers were, was paved with brick, while the rest of the structure had wooden floor. The original roof was wooden fences covered in tiles. The north ship and fireplace were destroyed and only parts of the base of its walls remain.
The structures were built of river stones, granite blocks and bricks. Details in the main building seem to indicate that the building was built in stages, with the central building being the oldest. The details of the doors and windows are different in the different parts of the structure. The construction date is not known for sure, but it is believed to date back to 1828. By 1910, the complex was no longer up and running.
The Vives Hacienda was declared a historic monument in 1976 and passed to the Institute of Puerto Rican Culture.
We wandered around the crumbling buildings, wondering what might have been beneath the floors. There are caved in places, and what looks to be either a doorway, or stairs leading down. I'm sure there must have been cellars down there. But who knows?
We went inside the building that's very much intact. I hope that money has been found somewhere and that this place will be restored fully and open to the public at some later date. The whole property looks as if there was some development that just stopped. Newer buildings with broken glass. Maybe Hurricane Maria damage?
The best part was the old circular building that was surely the mill. It stands tall with a tree growing out of the top wall. When we arrived here, we saw some sort of hawk perched in the tree. What a treat it is to be allowed unfettered access to places like this!!
Below is another snippet of history about this property that I found and copied from a website called :
What an unexpected treat it was to have the pleasure of exploring another of the historical sites of our new home! The moral of the story today is: Always go through the gate NOW!