TEMPE, Ariz. -- After standing abandoned for years, the historic Hayden Flour Mill is hours away from a grand re-opening that will launch its new life as a special-event venue.
Friday's event is the culmination of about a year of restoration and clean-up work.
Charles Trumbull Hayden opened the mill at the base of "A" mountain (Tempe Butte) in 1874, making it one of Tempe's first businesses. "The flour mill was the reason for the Tempe boom," explained historian Andrea Gregory. "Before the flour mill came in, it was a small farming community -- citrus, wheat and barley."
The mill shut down in 1998. The iconic building has been vacant ever since and until recently, fences blocked off the grounds, keeping the public out.
Those fences are gone now, and the grounds have been converted to accommodate special events. The new venue is called the Green at Hayden Flour Mill and it features shaded areas for picnicking and a grass lawn in front of an amphitheater, as well as information about the mill's history.
"This is a focal point for our community," Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell said Thursday morning. "It's going to help connect the Mill Avenue District, as well as Tempe Town Lake, which are the two most popular attraction areas for our city. This is a good link between the two areas."
The Hayden Flour Mill's grand opening happens on Friday, Oct. 5, 5 p.m.- 10 p.m., at 119 S. Mill Avenue, the southeast corner of Mill Avenue and Rio Salado Parkway. The event is free to everyone.
In addition to serving as an outdoor space for special events, the Green will be open daily, 7 a.m.-9 p.m.
Even as the Green at Hayden Flour Mill opens, the city continues to look for businesses interested utilizing the mill building and silos.