Here are some parting shots of the third floor. The room beyond the Dekalb sign was used to store chairs but also had a 200 gallon backup water tank. The grain bin in the spotlight is a very small grain bin that still has gain in it. The only one I know of in the Mill still with grain. The last picture is of my friends from FAWM.
February certainly turned out to be an interesting month. When I started this 28 days of blogging I had no idea that the Mill would burn five days into the story. I’m repeating the February first blog today because I’m now doing the Mill from Top to Bottom and the Recording Studio in the Grain Bin is part of the third floor. We thank all of you who have shown so much love and support over the last month. Spring is coming and with it rebirth. Please pray for us as we plan what’s next for the Mill. The Emlenton Mill, built in 1875, housed a mill museum, an ice cream shop, a bunkhouse hostel, an Emporium that sold antiques, crafts and books and a number of secrets. One of these secrets is a recording studio in a gain bin. Hidden away in a converted grain bin, on the third floor of the Mill, is a recording studio control room from the 1970s. It was originally located on the music practice floor of the College of Fine Arts at Carnegie Mellon University. It was built by myself and some friends from the campus radio station WRCT. The Mill has a large number of grain bins which were used to store the different grains that were processed at the Mill. They vary in size from the size of a closet to the size of a railroad box car. The grain bin we chose for the studio is a small room located just off the main area of the third floor and required very little alteration. Most grain bins are built with sloped floors so the grain would gravity feed to the center of the bin where the output chute was located. This grain bin only required a new floor to support the studio.
At the bottom right of the picture of the 3rd floor cyclones and shakers (see 2/25/15 post) is a secret door which can only be opened from the fourth floor by spinning the Texas flywheel. Beyond that door is a grain bin and beyond that grain bin is the Mills tallest grain bin. At 36 feet tall it was the size of a railroad car on end. And in that grain bin we built a climbing wall. In the first picture you can see the wonderful old wood and the iron ladder. In the second picture you can see David flying in the grain bin as he installs the climbing wall. I would drop the sections from above on a rope and David would fasten them to the wall. The guys below, Ryan and Daniel, controlled his position and the safety rope.
This picture is of old tools from the Mill. There is an RC cola bottle at the right to give you an idea of size. I especially like the huge wrench at the back. It was at least three feet long and weighed a lot. This picture is taken looking into the NW grain bin which was a few feet below the third floor level. It housed our set of redwood castle windows. We had planned to build a castle before the Mill came up for sale. In hindsight, I think I enjoyed the Mill a lot more than a castle. To the left of the castle window bin was a room we called the Board Room. If you have visited it recently that is where the pictured tools were kept. It was called the board room because we stored a large table and chairs there . One especially interesting chair was large and red and had a black bird perched on the corner of its back. If anyone has a picture of this chair or the board room I would really appreciate a copy of it. Most recently the boardroom housed a pool table moved up from the second floor with great effort by David and his friends from Pittsburgh.
Here is a quick rundown of the equipment in the Grain Bin Studio. The speakers are Acoustic Research AR3a. The tape recorder is a four track Teac using quarter inch magnetic tape. To the right of the recorder is a hundred watt lunchbox amplifier designed by Stan Kriz. To the left is the meter head/power supply/headphone amplifier for the board. I built the mixing board by hand out of Aluminum stock. The electronics which is all rack mountable includes compressors, Stan’s 90db version of a dolby unit, reverbs, and matrixes. The center section originally held the board at the left and then later held the Teac board. the red back board is from a Three Rivers Computer booth. The tall rack holds the WRCT green machines that provided late night music. Originally it was a data logger from the Pittsburgh airport. The small rack is the six track recorder, Ampex deck and electronics. The poster is a Maxfield Parrish that hung in the original CMU studio.
Nancy and I were married in 1979 and soon after we moved the CMU Fine Arts Studio to the basement of our house two blocks from CMU. We divided the basement into two rooms connected by a double glass window. We added a Teac board and a Roland piano. This was the last iteration of the studio before it moved to the grain bin at the Emlenton Mill. My friends Brian Rosen and Stan Kriz from the studio and I started Three Rivers Computer Company and soon we were all too busy with the company and children to play in the studio any longer.
These pictures show a typical grain bin at the Emlenton Mill. At the bottom of the vertical picture you can see the sloping wall has been cut away revealing the horizontal sub floor and the supporting framework for the sloped walls. The basketball is sitting at the very bottom of the bin and covers the output chute. The horizontal picture shows the size of the bin and the three iron rods that keep the sides from bowing out due to the weight of the grain. The chute that passes through the bin and the floor is from a different bin and is just passing through. Tomorrow more about the 1970’s studio, WRCT and CMU.