Back in May 2020, Iowa City’s longstanding art venue and restaurant, The Mill, was closed down in the midst of the Covid-19 Pandemic. In January 2022, the venue was demolished as a new art venue is set to take its place.
The Mill opened in 1963 and was founded by Keith Dempster. While the Mill was first located 320 E Burlington St, the Iowa City art venue was eventually moved to 120 E Burlington St. Throughout the years, many artists and musicians gathered at the Mill to display their work as locals would continue to flood into the place whenever big names such as Greg Brown, Bo Ramsey, Dave Zollo, and many more performed. The space was very notable for being a location for the Mission Creek Festival, where many local and national artists would come to Iowa City to perform at a variety of venues.
While the space was known as a performance venue, it was also a restaurant and a space where advocates, politicians, and writers held events. Politicians such as Julian Castro, Kristen Gillibrand, and many other politicians used the space for political campaigns. The Mill was sold by Keith Dempster in 2002 and was eventually revived in 2003 by Marty Christenson and Dan Ouverson and kept itself running for 17 more years.
With the Mill being demolished as 2 months have past, Iowa City Artists Dave Zollo, Pieta Brown, and Sam Rae, along with historian Mary Bennett, reflect on venues history, how it had impacted Iowa City’s art community, and how urban renewal has been a constant theme.
Presented through archival footage from Public Space One, Little Village Magazine, and filmmaker Dave Olive, along with interviews from Dave Zollo, Pieta Brown, Sam Rae, and Mary Bennett, it’s time to down to the Ol’ Mill one last time.