|Structures of the Lime Kiln District|
The first structure we'll look at is (at least partly) one of the oldest on the property, and is shown in the picture below. I'll say a few more things about this in an upcoming post, but all signs point to this building as originally being a working grist mill, likely dating to the 18th century -- prior to Jeanes' purchase of the land. Francis A. Cooch, in his book Little Known History of Newark, Delaware and Its Environs, also states that this was an older mill that was burnt by the British or Hessians on their way to Brandywine in 1777. It's not known whether the mill was operable when Jeanes purchased the tract, or whether he ever used it. My guess would be that he did not operate the mill, or at least didn't run it for long, since at some point he converted the old mill into a warehouse for his lime business. Later, probably in the early 20th century, it was converted into a dwelling, which it remains today.
|Abel Jeanes' Grist Mill-turned-Warehouse|
Sitting across the road and on the east side of Pike Creek are the remains of what was once the most impressive structure in the area -- Abel Jeanes' massive stone barn. Built in 1832, it was for many years thought to be the largest barn in Delaware. Even by looking only at the considerable stone foundation, all that's left after it burned in the early 1940's, I don't doubt it. Nowhere does the record indicate this, but my assumption would be that the barn was built this large in order to house the unusually high number of draft animals Jeanes owned. In 1832, the year the barn was built, he had 38 horses and 10 or 12 yoke of oxen. They all needed to go somewhere, so he built a huge barn. In addition to being the largest of the area's structures, the barn is also the only one on the east side of the creek. I agree with Cooch's assessment that Jeanes did this intentionally to keep it a safe distance from the the burning, and spark-producing, lime kilns.
|Springhouse/Wheelwright Shop - foreground. Office - behind|
|Office and Storeroom built by Joseph Eastburn|
Finally, next to the springhouse/wheelwright shop sits the last of the buildings we'll look at in this post, Joseph Eastburn's Office and Storeroom. As much as anything else, I think the erection of this building proves that the lime business here was not just a small family operation, but was actually a full-fledged business. When you need to build a separate office building, in my mind you certainly have a "real" company. And just as a final note about all of these structures, if they look a little different from most of the other houses and mills in the area -- they are. As one can see by driving around MCH, one of the main building materials used in the late 17th and much of the 18th century was the local fieldstone (mostly types of gneiss and schists) that underlies much of the area. All the buildings in this area, however, with the exception of the Jeanes House and the base of the wagon shed, are built from the limestone found right here, which gives the walls a slightly different look than the other "stone" buildings in the region. This is just another reason that I think the Eastburn-Jeanes Lime Kiln Historic District is one of the most unique areas in Mill Creek Hundred.