Couple restore historic Harford farm

OLD MILL'S WHEEL MAY TURN AGAIN

September 19, 1993|By JoAnne C. Broadwater | JoAnne C. Broadwater,Contributing Writer

The wheel that once powered the mill at Deane and Marty Blazie's 100-acre farm in the village of Mill Green has been gone for years -- a casualty of modern industry and the changing lifestyles of the 20th century.

But that mill was once the centerpiece of a tiny hamlet that sprang up in the mid-1800s on the shores of Broad Creek in northern Harford County. And the Blazies hope to have it running again soon -- which is fitting, given Mill Green's recent placement on the National Register of Historic Places.

"I wonder sometimes what preceded me here," said Mrs. Blazie, proud that her home is being included on a list of America's most historic places. "Sometimes I can just picture in my mind all the happenings and the workings of the mill."

The couple has found a millwright in Virginia who can build a new wheel. When the job is done, they want to use the mill, built in 1827, to generate power for a landscape irrigation system and lighting.

If the Blazies have their way, the mill will return to its stature as the centerpiece of a community that once included a general store, post office, hotel, sawmill, cannery, cider mill, doctor's office and coffin factory.

Today, Mill Green is recognized as the largest remaining 19th-century rural industrial village in the county.

And it isn't only the people who remain. John Famous was born 60 years ago in a house in Mill Green and has lived here all of his life. His two brothers also have houses in the village, and so does one of his daughters. Another daughter lives right around the corner.

His father, Franklin Famous, Mill Green's unofficial mayor, died in April at age 90, having lived 85 years in the town.

The Blazies moved to this rural area five years ago from a housing development in Churchville. Both in their mid-40s, the couple are partners in Blazie Engineering, a Forest Hill firm that makes talking computers for the visually handicapped.

The Blazies live in what was once the miller's house, a tiny structure built by William Ashmore about 1770 that had just one room per floor and measured 13 by 18 feet. Two distinct additions have been made since then; today, the house has an estimated 7,500 square feet of living space.

They purchased the old mill property through a bankruptcy foreclosure sale for about $310,000. The house had been vacant for several years, and they estimate that they have already spent $200,000 in repairs and improvements. They expect the new mill wheel to cost $30,000.

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