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Motel landmark being resurrected
• Former Blue Mill Motel windmill
Windmill Blue Mill
A carpenter on a ladder was busy building a replacement to the original mock windmill that was built in the 1950s in front of the Blue Mill Motel, now Howard Johnson Inn. The original was hit by a car a year ago and had to be demolished. - photo by Jeff Benziger

The landmark reproduction of a Dutch windmill is returning to the Howard Johnson Inn.

The original structure on the Highway 99 frontage road was razed after it was damaged in May 2023 when a car careened into it.

“We were hoping to salvage it but it really fractured everything inside,” said motel owner Ashik Jamnadas.

The windmill was the brainchild of Parke and Jeanette Stokes who built the Blue Mill Motel in the early 1950s. At that time the motel was right on the highway before the modern freeway shifted to the west and it was serviced by Herndon Avenue, the frontage road.

Ashik Jamnadas’ grandfather Shantilal Jamnadas and father Rajendra Jamnadas who moved to Stanislaus County from Canada and owned Halford’s Cleaners on McHenry Avenue, purchased the Blue Mill Motel in August 1981. In 1986 the two-story motel structure in the middle of the parking lot was added and made became the National 9 Inn Blue Mill Motel. In 1996 the motel was converted to Howard Johnson Inn.

Motel owner Ashik Jamnadas said the replacement utilizes the same design and the same top salvaged from the original.

“Using original photos and decades old postcards, we are attempting to remake this Ceres landmark as close to its original as possible,” he said.

The windmill has no function other than being a visual landmark. But originally it hid a well for the days in which water service wasn’t provided by the city. Eventually the well was capped, said Jamnadas.

“We could have just pocketed the insurance money because it doesn’t really add anything.”

But he said he has sentimental reasons for restoring the fake windmill since he grew up living in the manager’s unit of the motel and playing around the structure. He said after it came down, things didn’t look right about it.

The original windmill’s demise was the aftermath of a road rage incident on northbound Highway 99. Angel Miguel Ordaz, 34, of Hughson, was driving his Honda sedan northbound on Highway 99 when some kind of drama unfolded between him and Allen Rodriguez, 20, who was driving a Dodge pickup. Ordaz brandished a handgun at Rodriguez and intentionally rammed his Honda into the pickup. Ordaz lost control and shot off the freeway, eventually flipping over as it crashed through a chain-link fence and becoming airborne before clipping the motel’s decorative windmill and the two-story portion of the motel. Ordaz was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, misdemeanor brandishing a firearm and misdemeanor carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle.