Historic grist mill at Eden Mill to close temporarily Monday

The Harford County Department of Parks and Recreation is closing the historic grist mill at Eden Mill Nature Center and Park this Monday for several months, as the exterior of the more than 200-year-old mill is renovated.

Workers will replace the exterior wooden siding and the building's 39 windows, Paul Magness, parks and recreation's deputy director, said Thursday.

"The siding that's there has run its course," Magness said. "It's at the end of its useful life."

The Eden Mill Nature Center next to the mill and the rest of the park grounds will remain open while the work at the mill is progress.

Magness explained that the windows and siding on the mill building must be replaced to ensure water does not leak into the structure during a rain storm.

"Water can very easily penetrate into the historic mill, and this will certainly help with that issue and protect the inside," Magness said.

The mill in Pylesville is a Harford County registered historic property, and the renovation project received approval from the county's historic commission in February.

Magness said the commission members had to ensure "replacement construction materials that we're using are going to match the existing size and color of the structure."

The county has a $194,280 contract with L.C. Bathon Builders. The mill is expected to be closed for tours for four months.

Magness said the contractor is "confident" the work will be completed in time for Eden Mill's annual Fall Fest scheduled for Nov. 8.

Aimee Dunn, recreation specialist for Eden Mill, said Thursday the nature center and park programs will continue as scheduled while the mill is closed.

She said Eden Mill staff can still tell visitors about the history of the mill.

"As for going inside the mill, we won't be doing that," Dunn said.

The grist mill was built in the late 1700s by the Stansbury family, according to the Eden Mill website.

The mill was run by generations of Stansburys until 1883, when George L. Anderson, the son-in-law of James Stansbury, took it over. It could grind 50 barrels of flour a day from grains brought by local farmers.

Dunn said a fire in the early 20th century caused partial damage to the mill.

The mill also began generating electricity in 1917, according to the Eden Mill website, and it provided power to Fawn Grove and New Park, Pa., until 1929, when the Glen Rock Light and Power Co. bought the power lines.

Grain was ground at the mill until 1964, when the last owner, James T. Smith, died, according to the Eden Mill website.

The county purchased the mill and 57 surrounding acres in 1965.

Dunn said the Stansbury family cemetery is also part of Eden Mill, and the park property surrounds the Stansbury family mansion, which is privately owned.

"Really, a mill in any community is an important part, and ours happens to be over 200 years old with a lot of history," Dunn said.

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