3390, Linchester Road, Preston, Caroline County
The Linchester Mill, constructed c. 1840, is a 2 ½-story frame mill building sided in red-painted weatherboard and roofed with raised-seam metal. Fenestration is irregular and consists primarily of 6/6 double hung windows. The building is four bays long and two bays deep, with a two-story lean-to addition on the east side and a one-story lean-to addition on the west side. The original (c. 1840) building was three bays wide, with the additional bay being added on the west side around 1880. The west lean-to addition was constructed prior to 1900 and the eastern one was built by 1918 based on datable photographic evidence. The steeply pitched standing-seam metal roof was recently replaced to match historical photographs. The north façade, which faces the road, has a large gull-wing awning also covered in raised-seam metal. The principal entrance is on the west side of the north façade. The first floor is irregularly fenestrated with, from left to right, a 6-pane window, a double 6-pane window (in the location of the former entry), and a 6/6 window to the right of the present entry. On the second floor there are three 6/6 windows, one immediately to the left of the split door and the other two evenly spaced from it to the right. The western addition has a second-story 9-pane window and a 6/6 window on the first floor. There is also a 6/6 window and a double door, for loading, on the western face of the first-story of this addition. There is one 6-pane window on the north face of the western lean-to addition. The rest of the building is similarly irregularly fenestrated with various 6-pane and 6/6 sash windows and doors. The remains of a Fitz overshot water wheel that last powered the mill in the 1970s can be found on the south side of the building. Inside the mill is a virtual museum of early milling technologies, retaining nearly all of its equipment from the turn of the 20th century. The mill is in sound structural condition and is being carefully rehabilitated for use as an historical museum operated by the Caroline County Historical Society. Northwest of the mill are two houses, both in a modest 19th century Greek Revival style. The larger of the two is a 2 ½-story five-bay frame building with blue-painted wooden siding. The smaller of the two is a 2 ½-story two-bay building sided in yellow-painted asbestos. These houses were historically the homes of the miller and his assistant, respectively. There are two outbuildings associated with the larger house and one with the smaller house. All of these buildings are situated on the southeast end of the village of Linchester, about a mile southwest of Preston in Caroline County. To the east of the mill is Upper Hunting Creek which formerly provided the water power for the mill equipment; remnants of the mill race survive on the property. North of the mill, on the opposite side of Maryland 16/318 is the former mill pond.
The Linchester Mill is architecturally significant as an unusually well-preserved grist mill housing an exceptionally complete collection of milling machinery representing the development of milling technology on the Eastern Shore of Maryland from the 19th century until the mid-20th century. It derives additional historical significance for its association with the history of agriculture in the rural Eastern Shore region. From early colonial history there has been a mill at the head of Upper Hunting Creek and the present mill at Linchester, despite additions and rehabilitation, retains a high degree of integrity from its construction in the second quarter of the 19th century. The design, materials, and workmanship are representative of the complex mechanisms in a mill of this period. The location of the mill and its surrounding buildings, housing for employees and caretakers, readily evoke the life of the miller who turned whole grain from surrounding farms into a saleable staple commodity. The spaces and equipment within the mill illustrated the intricate technology of this process. The mill is a rare surviving example of an industrial structure whose use has passed. Very few mill buildings of this era survive at all, let alone with their equipment and mechanisms still intact. The Linchester Mill is a key to both the understanding of early milling technologies and to bygone patterns of life in rural Eastern Shore community. The last technological update to the mill’s machinery was c. 1930. The mill ceased operation in 1974.