City Views: The Roller Mill in West End Mill Works

By Emily Alphin

I started going to Hoots Flea Market when I moved back to Winston-Salem a few years ago. I loved the quirky oddities, restored and salvaged furniture, and bespoke items that could only be found in the shadow of the leaning and rusted Roller Mill in the West End.

I used to walk through the dirt parking lot thinking about how cool it would be for someone to restore the building. As the months went by, though, I noticed signs of a rebirth. Not only was the Mill getting its polish back but the area around it was taking on a new shine as well. Grass was growing, the building looked straighter, and the parking lot got a fresh layer of gravel.

During one visit to Hoots Flea in the spring, I walked past a table draped with a large vinyl sign stamped with a logo: “The Roller Mill Events”. I stopped to talk to the man behind the table who introduced himself as Jonjo Evans and pointed out his wife Jennifer, just finishing a tour of the Mill. They told me about their restoration project and future plans to turn the Mill into an event venue.

When they moved back to Winston-Salem 2014 for Jennifer’s job, the instantly felt at home. (When asked why they chose to put down roots in Winston-Salem, the answer was simple. “It chose us.”) Jonjo opened the Woodshed in West End Mill Works and saw potential in the Mill given the success of their neighbors. Restoration specialists and rehab builders came in during the fall of 2015 and began their work. By spring of this year, the couple took over to make some finishing touches and started booking events and the calendar quickly filled up.

Jonjo and Jennifer are motivated by the idea of community-based collaboration: They have custom-made glass lighting fixtures from The Olio, a nearby non-profit glassblowing studio that also puts a strong focus on a sense of community. They have worked with The Porch and Hoots for events, including a tasting dinner featuring local talent and celebrating the American Farm exhibit at Reynolda House.

If you haven’t yet, it’s worth your time to visit their website or get in touch with them to take a tour of the Mill, which was built in 1935. You don’t even have to be planning a wedding – some recent and upcoming events include a baby shower, a children’s birthday party, and wedding reception dinners.

While the Evans agree that it’s been a challenge to have such a full plate, they wouldn’t want it any other way.