Chad R. Shrodes
Harford Creamery Road, Norrisville, Harford County
The Ivory Mills complex is located on the upper stretches of Deer Creek in the hilly, still-rural northwest corner of Harford County. The approximately 14-acre complex consists of six standing 19th century frame buildings and structures (mill, miller's house, barn, corncrib, carriage house, and chicken house), the ruins of a stone springhouse, and the stone abutments of a frame, Federal-era covered bridge. The focus of the complex is the c. 1818, three-story stone and frame mill building. The ground story is constructed of coursed stone rubble with noticeable quoining; the upper stories are clapboard. The gable roof is covered with metal. The main façade has a centrally placed door on all three exposed stories and five original 6/6 windows. The other façades contain a mixture of 6/6 sash windows, six-light casement windows, and on the south end, two 1/6 windows on the second story and four small casements in the third story. The west and north façades are embellished with the words "IVORY MILLS" painted between the second and third stories. Fireplaces in the southeast corner of the ground and second stories are serviced by an interior brick chimney. The interior retains much of the milling machinery which was in use when the mill ceased functioning in the 1920s. The miller's house is a frame building constructed in two periods. The mid 18th century 1 1/2-story rubblestone house became a rear wing when a two-story, five-bay frame I house was added to the front c. 1842. The main façade has original centrally placed six-panel door, with a Greek Revival six-light ransom, sheltered by an original one-bay hip-roofed porch with squared wooden posts. This door is flanked by two 6/6 windows on either side, and the 2nd story holds five 6/6 windows. Corbel-capped brick interior chimneys rise at the east and west ends. An early 20th century frame bank barn, a mid-19th century frame corncrib, a mid-19th century frame chicken house, a mid-19th century two-story timber framed carriage house, the ruins of a springhouse, and the site of a covered bridge remain on the property.
The Ivory Mills complex is significant for its association with the history of the grist mill industry in Harford County and for its association with the Wiley family, leaders of that industry, as well as for being an exceptionally complete and well preserved example of a mill complex typical of the period in the region. For approximately a century and a half, from the American Revolution to the early 20th century, milling was the greatest industry in Harford County. Concurrently, four generations of Wileys owned and operated mills in Harford County, making them the preeminent family in the industry locally. The first Wiley to move to the county arrived in 1781; his father and grandfather had been prominent millers in Chester County, Pennsylvania, since the early 18th century, making six generations of Wiley millers in all. The Wileys built three mills in Harford County, and Ivory, their first mill property, is easily the best preserved of these. Moreover--and unlike the other two--it retains most of the outbuildings associated with these rural industrial complexes. The period of significance, c. 1781-c. 1920, encompasses the Wileys' occupation of the property and its active use in the grist milling industry.