The founder and former owner of Tellus360 night club and events venue in Lancaster city is reviving a Conestoga Township tubing spot where this summer there will also be live entertainment and a tiki bar.
Joe Devoy and his wife, Dana Paparo, bought the 12.3-acre Sickman’s Mill along Pequea Creek in February for $775,000. The property includes the historic mill, an A-frame home where the couple live, and a longtime tubing launch that hasn’t been used for the last three years.
But beginning June 18, tubing will be offered seven days a week from Sickman’s Mill where there will also be a tiki bar named for Devoy’s Goldendoodle, Jimmy, and an event space with live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
“We figured it was a place that could have a lot of people at one time in a really, really fun environment -- and a really safe environment as well,” said Devoy.
Jimmy’s Place consists of a bar built around a walk-in cooler situated under a tent. A former snack shop inside the mill is being made over as another bar while there will be a third bar in a tent used for weddings and events that are still hosted at the property. New bathrooms were also built.
From June 18 until Aug. 9, food will be provided by Espino’s Pizza in Lancaster city, which will serve pizza, empanadas and sandwiches. The spot will be a satellite location for Thistle Finch Distillery, which will allow Sickman’s Mill to serve products from that Lancaster-city distillery along with any other beer, wine or spirits produced in Pennsylvania.
Thistle Finch will also produce Riverdog Rum, a branded rum that will be featured at Sickman’s Mill, and also sold at the Lancaster distillery. Riverdog Rum will be the first rum produced by Thistle Finch, which also makes whiskey, vodka and gin.
Sickman’s Mill was originally built in the 1770s and then enlarged in the 1860s. A distillery once operated on the site, which was used a grain mill into the 1960s. In the 1970s, tubing was introduced by owners, who also operated a campground at the site.
The property, which has also hosted an antiques mall, museum and a haunted attraction, has continued to serve as a wedding and events venue. But the tubing that has been closely linked to the mill has been canceled the last three years, both because of prior problems with debris at a nearby bridge, and then the coronavirus pandemic.
Last fall, Devoy and Paparo said they heard the owners of Sickman’s Mill were interested in selling, and got excited about the possibilities for the property where Paparo had good memories of tubing.
Paparo, who also owns Bristle & Prim salon in Lancaster city, said five-hour guided tubing tours will be added to standard two-hour trip. The guided tours will include a lunch and stops at swimming holes along the way. A shuttle returns all tubers to the mill after their floats.
For Devoy, the Sickman’s Mill project comes on the heels of his sale of Tellus360, which he founded in 2010 as a furniture store and then developed into an entertainment hotspot with five bars and performance stages, a garden roof and basement speakeasy.
A native of Ireland, Devoy moved to the United States in 1988 and lived in Erie, Pennsylvania, and New York and Maryland before finding a home in Lancaster. He owned a construction company when he opened Tellus360 as a furniture store in a former plasma donation center in downtown Lancaster.
In 2014, Devoy sold his interest in the construction company and bought out his partners in Tellus360, which had expanded beyond its original mission of selling imported antique Irish furniture and making pieces from reclaimed wood.
Devoy still owns the property at 24 E. King St., but sold the club for an undisclosed price in January to Bill Speakman and John Keane, who had both worked at the venue.
“The only thing I do in Tellus anymore is drink,” Devoy said.
Speakman said he and Keane aren’t planning any changes at Tellus360, noting that after more than a year of restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic, they are almost fully back to operating normally.
“We’re going to continue to grow in the direction that Joe started,” Speakman said.