Monday, June 28, 2010

The Harlan-Chandler Mill Complex, Part II

Abram Chandler House
In the last post, we took a look at the 3-story, fieldstone house that turned out to have been built within the shell of the 1815 Harlan grist mill. In this post, we'll turn our eyes to the other house in the complex, the Abram Chandler House. The dwelling is a 2 1/2 story brick structure, with five bays, a centered door, and three dormers. There is also a full-sized ell built onto the rear of the house.

According to the 1987 DelDot report, Abram Chandler purchased the mill and property from the Harlan family in 1852, then conveyed the property the same year to Samuel Chandler, probably his son or brother. Samuel then sold the property back to Abram in 1863. It's unclear whether Samuel operated the mill during that 11 year period, or whether Abram did. It's quite likely, though, that sometime not long after 1863 Abram was looking for a larger, newer home. He built it, right next to his mill.

The DelDot report goes no further than stating that the house was in place by 1871, citing an inscription in a window with that date. I, however, think I can push the date back a few years, as a house is shown in this location on the 1868 Beers map. Whatever the exact date, suffice it to say the house was built in the mid to late 1860's. The ornamental iron-work porch shown in the picture above was not original to the house, but was added sometime in the early 1900's. Also of note, the small concrete wall also shown in the picture is actually the bridge that once carried Old Milltown Road across the millrace leading to the mill. Below is a section of the 1868 map showing the area.


As the map shows, the Milltown intersection was a bit different before the roads were widened, then shifted, in 1922 and 1964. In fact, when Abram Chandler built his house, it was across Milltown Road from the mill. Remnants of the original Milltown and Limestone Roads are still being used by the current owners as a driveway and access road. Much may have changed over the years in the Milltown area, but these two houses, the former Harlan Grist Mill and the Abram Chandler House, remain as quiet reminders of the little hamlet's past.

12 comments:

  1. Sadly, the Abrahm Chandler house was ravaged by fire last night. I drove past it this evening and the damage looks pretty extensive. Although I hope it can be restored, I fear another important MCH landmark will fall to the wrecker's ball.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here's an update on the Chandler House, and it doesn't look good: the roof is entirely off of the structure. The interior of the structure is completely exposed to the elements and the upcoming winter weather will surely damage what wasn't affected by the fire. Since there are no indications that repairs will be made in the near future, I expect the owners will subject the house to "benign neglect" and have the structure demolished when it is too far deteriorated for repair.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for the update, Bill. I did happen to see that last week when I went by. Sadly, I think you're probably right. I'd love to hope that removing the roof is the first step in rebuilding it, but it's probably not.

      Delete
  3. I live right near this house and they are repairing the damage!!! I am so happy to see them preserving the areas history.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They are not preserving it, they are destroying it totally. Not doing it right at all.

      Delete
    2. Looks pretty good to me. What do you think they're doing wrong?

      Delete
    3. Everything. Throw all the corbels in the trash, ripped off the 3rd floor brick wall down completely, throwing out and breaking what original windows are left, Used to be flat at the end of the roof for the built in gutter. All gone. asphalt roof, fake plastic wood parts & press board wood have no place in an old house. Taking all the character off & Making a old house new is not preserving it at all. No longer old and nice looking anymore.

      Delete
  4. Anon-

    I too am glad to see the restoration work being done. After sitting unrepaired for so long, I feared the worst. I hope that when the work is done there might be a chance to tour the building.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What they are doing is not restoration work.

      Delete
    2. Yes, they are restoring it. They're restoring it to a usable house. Will that house be identical in every way to how it was pre-fire? No. Was it "totally destroyed" when indoor plumbing was added? Electricity? Unless the owners turned down your offer to fund the restoration, Anonymous, I think we should be happy it's not a pile of rubble or a patch of new sod. Just my opinion.

      Delete
    3. i agree wholeheartedly with scott.We should preserve our past in a way to show where we came from,but not in a way that limits our progress.If you only look backwards you can not see where you are going.Mr anonymous,would you rather see a wawa on that corner, or a building that made you think of the areas rich history even if it wasn't 100% original.

      Delete
    4. I agree! Historically correct restoration is extremely expensive. And seldom a reality (indoor plumbing and electricity being two examples) Old houses are living things and are altered or improved by each generation that occupies them. Their purpose from the beginning was to be a home, not a museum. They die when they are empty and not lived in. Perhaps some future owner will have the wherewithal to be more historically correct with the materials and architectural details, but now it is to be what it always has been, a home not a museum. Good on them!

      Delete