|Mendenhall House (center) and Mills, c1895|
After operations ceased at these mills, unless they were repurposed like Caleb Harlan's old mill, there was usually no reason to keep them around. They were generally either torn down more or less immediately so the building material could be reused, or they were abandoned and left to fall down on their own. Very often, by the early-to-mid 20th Century all that was left was the nearby miller's house and maybe a few foundations. This was exactly the case for the Mendenhall House and mills along Mill Creek, at the intersection of Mill Creek Road and (go figure) Mendenhall Mill Road. In this case, we're lucky enough that we happen to have some photographs of the area while (or shortly after) it was in operation, and the mill remained long enough to be photo'd and studied long after it's mothballing.
The Mendenhall story in Delaware began with Aaron Mendenhall, Jr., who moved from the Downingtown, PA area to a farm, which he called Sugar Loaf Farm*, that I believe was located along Hyde Run, just north of Hercules Road. [Edit: Reader Blinky points out in the comments below that there is a Sugar Loaf Lane in the development of Westminster. Seems like pretty good evidence.] I don't know if this was the reason he left, but it seems he was "disowned" by the Bradford Monthly (Friends) Meeting in 1757, having been found guilty of "unseemly behavior" with a woman (i.e., adultery). At the latest, he was definitely in MCH by 1763 for the birth of his first child, James Aaron. Around 1783, James married and moved into a new house a short distance away on the banks of Mill Creek*. It's logical to assume he built one or both of his mills at the same time, and in 1804 James Mendenhall was listed as owning both a saw mill and a grist mill.
In 1826, James built a new grist mill, this one measuring 35 by 40 feet, three and a half stories tall, with walls made of stone. By later in the 1800's, it was powered by a metal overshot wheel, fed by a pair of 16" metal flume pipes. I think it's likely that this was a later upgrading of an earlier wooden undershot wheel fed by a race. This mill would be standing until at least the mid 1960's. It's not clear what became of the saw mill, but a map as late as 1893 still lists there as being a saw mill and a grist mill at the site. It's possible, though, that the map is incorrect, since the 1868 Beers map shows only a grist mill and the 1893 map also lists I(saac) N. Mendenhall as living in the old house, despite the fact that he died in 1876. This Historic American Buildings Survey (HABS) report does tantalizingly mention "remnants of rubble and mortar wall constructions of undetermined function", so it's possible that this was the saw mill.
|Mendenhall Grist Mill, in 1958|
As to the fate of the big, stone grist mill, which stood more or less directly across from James A.'s house, it probably was torn down not long after the HABS report in 1965. I've not had a chance to check out the site, but I'd be surprised if some remnants of the mill are not still there. James W. Mendenhall's house, too, is no longer standing. There is, however, what appears to be a garage/barn next to the old house, which is either a restored old building or a newer one built on the old foundation. The whole area is much more heavily wooded now than it was during the mills' operating days, and driving through it today most people probably have no idea of the more than two centuries of history surrounding them.
* -- Please see this post here for new information about the early history of the area, and about the later years of the mill.