Union Mills Homestead Dates Back To Old Log House

May 05, 1991

Set amid the prosperous farms of the rolling hills in the Mid-Atlantic Piedmont region is the Union Mills Homestead complex.

Listed inthe National Register of Historic Places, the Homestead is one of 21historic houses featured in the book "Great Houses of Maryland" by Susan Stiles Dowell.

The main house was begun in 1797 by Andrew and David Shriver as asimple four-room, dog-trot log house and grew to be a 23-room structure.

In 1797, they also built a large four-story brick grist mill,powered with water diverted from the Big Pipe Creek.

Along with the various processes run by the grist mill, the Shriver family's industrial complex at Union Mills grew to include a saw mill, cooper shop, blacksmith shop, tannery and canning factory.

This crossroads community was a thriving settlement complete with a post office and inn.

Following the Civil War, with the expansion of the railroad and competition from larger highly mechanized mills, Union Mills suffered a gradual decline.

The property, now owned by the Carroll CountyCommissioners and administered by the Union Mills Homestead Foundation, is an extraordinary historic resource.

It had remained in Shriver family ownership until its conversion to a museum in 1964.

Thus it retains a wealth of family furnishings that comprise an accumulation of two centuries.

In 1983, an award-winning restoration of the grist mill to the working condition of an 18th century mill was completed.

The Miller's House has been completed and is outfitted as a visitor's orientation center and gift shop.

The building is partially log and originally was used to house a hired miller.

It contains an orientation exhibit that illustrates the social, agriculturaland industrial aspects of Union Mills.

The Bark Shed, which originally stored bark used in the processing operation of the tannery, has been restored as a blacksmith's and woodworking shop.

The building was stabilized and a brick blacksmith's forge was constructed.

Collections of woodworking and wheelwright's tools have been donated to the museum for use and display in the shed.

Membership to the non-profit Union Mills Homestead Foundation, 3311 Littlestown Pike, isopen to the public and any business or organization.

The Homestead is open to the public for tours noon to 4 p.m. weekends only duringMay, September and October; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekdays and noon to 4p.m. weekends during June, July and August.

Information: 848-2288.

SPECIAL EVENTS

* May 4-5: 22nd annual Flower and Plant Market opens the Homestead's season; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday; features flowers, plants, county crafts and antiques.

* Aug. 3: Old-Fashioned Corn Roast; noon to 6 p.m.

* Dec. 12-13: Poinsettia and Greens Open House; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

OTHER MILL ATTRACTIONS

Union Mills isn't the only mill still surviving in the county.

About 25 remain today in all different states of repair and disrepair.

County grist mills ground corn, wheat, barley and buckwheat, producing corn meal, hominy and flour for markets in Baltimore and overseas. The mills also produced feedfor animals.

Mills, which also included sawmills, paper mills, fulling mills and oil mills, were important in the communities as gathering spots and sources of news.

In addition to mills, brick-end barns also can be seen in Carroll.

These barns are made with end walls of brick and patterned with opens spaces to form designs.

Information on many of the other mills in the county is available in JoanPrall's book, "Mills and Memories" in libraries and area bookstores.

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