Recording the PastMill Timeline
In 1936, John Brostup came to Colesville to take photographs for the Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS), a New Deal federal works project established to capture pre-1860s structures on film before they disappeared. Of the 154 properties Brostup documented in Maryland for HABS, fifty-eight were located in Montgomery County. Of that number, the mid-19th century two-and-a-half story structure with a raised foundation at Valley Mill represented the only mill Brostup recorded for posterity.
As vividly depicted in a black and white photo, the mill was already in a state of demise. Past its prime, the building no longer had a viable function — the plight of most grist mills in the early 20th century. American households, regardless of economic status and location, increasingly had access to finely bleached machine-processed white flour manufactured by large milling corporations such as Pillsbury and Gold Medal. The Valley Mill was eventually dismantled in 1941.
The goal of stewardship that began with HABS recording Valley Mill as an architectural relic continues today. The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC) utilizes archaeology to uncover artifacts that address what daily life was like at this once thriving local enterprise. Although the mill
facility no longer stands, its foundation remains as a visible reminder that this business played a critical role in the surrounding community as a provider of necessary goods.
Records reveal milling began at this location along the Paint Branch stream
Public sale ad identifies a physical structure here: "single geared grist mill with bolting cloth."
Peter Kemp constructs the brick miller's house and incorporates an automated system of elebators and conveyors into the mill, then known as "Kemp Mill"
Dr. Washington Duvall assumes ownership of the mill; focuses on production of cornmeal and lumber
Duvall replaces the entire milling facility, building on the original foundation
Franklin A. Piling updates the internal milling technology with the introduction of the Poole and Hunt Leffel-type turbine, replacing the old water paddle wheel (see below)
Captain Winfield S. Overton advertises the property as the "Valley Mill Farm" where "leghorns, hatching eggs, dairy products" were available
Historic Americans Buildings Survey documents Valley Mill
The milling facility is dismantled
M-NCPPC purchases the property to create the Valley Mill Special Park