HISTORY

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ČERVENÝ MLÝN WAS THE FLOUR MILL FOR THE NEARBY "ZÁMEK," OR CHATEAU, OF NALŽOVSKÉ HORY AND THE SURROUNDING REGION. THE CHATEAU, KNOWN AS SCHLOSS ELLISCHAU, HAS FOUNDATIONS GOING BACK TO THE 1400'S, SO WE CAN ONLY IMAGINE WHEN THE MILL'S ORIGINS DATE TO. THE RED MILL WAS MOST LIKELY ESTABLISHED BY THE END OF FEUDALISM, IN THE LATE 1500'S WHEN THE AUSTRO-HUNGARIAN EMPIRE CONTROLLED THE CZECH LANDS.  THE REGION ITSELF HAS BEEN SETTLED SINCE ANCIENT TIMES, WITH CELTIC SITES ABUNDANT IN THE AREA.

 

THE OLDEST WRITTEN DOCUMENTS WE HAVE FOUND RECORD THE SALE OF THE MILL IN 1758 TO A CERTAIN JAKUB ŠLECHTY OF MIŘENICE (THE NEAREST VILLAGE WHICH THE MILL STILL BELONGS TO). THE SALES CONTRACT STATES THAT THE NEW OWNER MUST AGREE TO SPECIAL INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE MILLING OF FLOUR, AS WELL AS 1) REMAIN A FAITHFUL CATHOLIC,  2) BUY BEER ONLY FROM THE LORDED LANDS OF NALŽOVKY BREWERY, AND 3) KEEP THE WATER LEVEL HIGH ENOUGH IN THE LAKE SO AS NOT TO HARM THE CARP.

 

WELL.....WE MAY HAVE FAILED ON THE FIRST RULE, BUT ARE CERTAINLY PAYING ATTENTION TO THE SECOND TWO!

 

THE NAVRÁTIL FAMILY HAD THE MILL FOR THE 3 GENERATIONS BEFORE WE ARRIVED. THEY MODERNIZED IT IN THE 1920'S JUST WHEN CZECHOSLOVAKIA CLAIMED ITSELF AN INDEPENDENT NATION FREE FROM 400 YEARS OF HABSBURG RULE. AT THIS TIME IT WAS RENAMED "VÁLCOVÝ MLÝN", WHICH MEANS LITERALLY "CYLINDER" MILL, WHEN THEY EXCHANGED THE OLD-FASHIONED MILLSTONES AND WATER WHEEL FOR A NEW TURBINE. IT WAS THE SECOND MODERNIZED MILL IN THE COUNTRY- A MAJOR TECHNOLOGICAL FEAT FOR THAT TIME. THE NAME NEVER STUCK, BUT THE TURBINE STILL EXISTS. WE STILL USE IT TO MAKE WATER MOVE, AND HOPE TO MAKE IT INTO AN ENERGY SOURCE AGAIN, AS IT WAS UNTIL THE 1970'S WHEN MRS. NAVRÁTILOVÁ BROUGHT THE MILL ONTO THE GRID AND INSTALLED INDOOR PLUMBING.

 

THE NAVRÁTIL'S LIVED THROUGH THE TWO WORLD WARS, KEEPING THE MILL RUNNING EVEN DURING THE BLACK-OUT TIMES OF FASCIST OCCUPATION IN THE 1940'S. ČERVENÝ MLÝN CONTRIBUTED TO THE NATION BY ILLEGALLY MILLING AT NIGHT,  DESPITE THE NAZI CURFEW AND LAW THAT ONLY GERMANS WOULD HAVE BREAD. BECAUSE OF THIS ACTIVITY THE MILLER, PAN NAVRÁTIL WAS EVENTUALLY CAUGHT AND INTERRED IN A CONCENTRATION CAMP. HE SURVIVED, ONLY TO BE IMPRISONED A SECOND TIME AFTER THE WAR, FOR FIGHTING AGAINST THE NEW COMMUNIST REGIME IN HIS OWN COUNTRY. THE MILL KEPT RUNNING DURING THESE HARD TIMES BY THE STOIC MARIE NAVRATÍLOVÁ,  WHO THE LOCAL FARMERS STILL SPEAK ABOUT WITH RESPECT.  ARTMILL'S FOUNDER BARBARA BENISH, WHO NOW LIVES AT THE MILL, DEDICATED A SERIES OF WORK TO THIS STRONG WOMAN, CALLED "THE MILLER'S WIFE" (2004-07) AND "BREAD AND A MILLSTONE" THAT CAN NOW BE SEEN IN ARTMILL'S GALLERY.

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