Paul Baker Touart
Williston Mill Historic District
24729, Williston Rd., Denton, Caroline County
The Williston Mill Historic District consists of two historic structures--a mill and a miller's house--which share the acreage with the mill stream and race that empties into Mill Creek, a tributary of the Choptank River. The Williston mill house is a two-story, four-bay single-pile frame dwelling. The western three bays of the four-bay main block comprise the c. 1840-1850 side hall/parlor house, which was restyled and enlarged in two major building programs, first around 1870 and secondly after 1895 with the addition of the eastern bay, yielding a center hall/single-pile dwelling. The two-story, four-bay north elevation is an asymmetrical facade with a central entrance with three-light sidelights and three-light transom. Two 2/2 sash windows with louvered shutters stand to the west, and one to the east. The first floor is covered by a flat-roofed porch with square posts and corner brackets. The second floor also has an uneven four-bay fenestration with 2/2 sash windows with louvered shutters. Two interior chimneys with corbeled caps once pierced the roof, although the chimney to the east has been taken down below the roof line. A two-story polygonal bay window defines the east gable end, while a single 2/2 sash window pierces the first story of the west gable end. The two-story rear wing is four bays, extended on each side by single-story enclosed rooms or open porches. The interior is finished with a range of mid- to late-19th century woodwork including Greek Revival features. The house retains little of its first-period (c. 1840-50) finishes aside from some wide pine floors and some two-panel Greek Revival doors. South of the house is the two-part frame mill building. The single-story western half is a braced timber frame structure dating around 1830-1840, whereas the eastern two-story section was built around 1895. Both sections are supported on granite foundations and distinct seams in the stonework indicate the shift between the two periods of construction. The mill is lighted by 6/6 sash windows on the north, east, and west sides. Dutch doors sheltered by shed-roofed hoods provide individual access to each section. The single-story, western half of the mill has a central summer beam decorated with chamfered edges and lamb's tongue stops, and the principal posts are treated in the same fashion. The mill stones are encased in an iron binding labeled, B.F. Starr, Baltimore, Maryland. The mill also contains some of its pulleys and toothed gears within the loft. The two-story addition principally houses a grain elevator and wooden grain storage bin on the second level.
The Williston Mill Historic District is significant primarily for its architectural survivals of two 19th century structures; a two-story frame mill owner's house and a frame grist mill, one of two to remain standing in Caroline County. The mill was erected in two periods. The single-story gable-roofed section dates around 1830-40 and was assembled with pre-industrial hand techniques, especially evident in the heavy chamfered posts and summer beam. The stone used in its foundation is distinctive to Port Deposit, where the first granite quarries were opened in 1829. The two-story mill addition, built around 1895, is the product of machine-age building technology. The two sections reflect as well a blend in the technological changes important to the processing of grain between the second quarter of the 19th century and the turn of the 20th century. The two-story, T-shaped frame mill owner's house reflects architectural changes over three distinct periods, beginning with a two-story, side-hall/parlor frame dwelling erected during the second quarter of the 19th century. The miller's house was restyled around 1870-1880 with significant exterior and interior alterations. Lastly, around the turn of the 20th century, the house was modified with several additions yielding the present appearance of the T-shaped dwelling. As such the house yields important information on changing priorities for a miller's dwelling over the course of a half century. The house and mill complex, set within a rural landscape including a mill pond, mill race, creek, county roads, and fields, is a significant survival of mid- to late-19th century agrarian architectural forms in a relatively undisturbed setting.