Jerusalem Mill itself was built between 1769 and 1772 by miller David Lee and millwright Isaiah Linton. It is the oldest and most impressive of Harford County’s historic mills, and was one of eighteen mills constructed by Isaiah Linton. While over 300 mill sites have been identified in Harford County, only a handful of the mills survive, and the Jerusalem Mill is the only extant mill along the Little Gunpowder Falls. A low lying site along the Fall Line on Little Gunpowder Falls called Jerusalem was selected as a mill seat. After completing the mill’s construction in August 1772, David Lee began milling flour under the "White Silk" label. Much of the gristmill’s flour was shipped down the Chesapeake on the way to the Caribbean. By 1814, the Jerusalem mill site had grown to include a saw mill, blacksmith and coopers shops, miller’s house, mill workers’ houses, general store, post office, and other support structures.
Originally known as Lee's Merchant Mill, Jerusalem Mill is also important as the centerpiece for one of the most complete mill villages in Maryland, and the only remaining example of an industrial complex within the Little Gunpowder Falls, which was among the state’s most prominent areas of early industrialization. David Lee’s mill village reflected the transformation that was occurring at the hands of early entrepreneurs during the Industrial Revolution. Numerous merchant mills were established in this area to take advantage of the growing flour export trade through the important port of Baltimore as well as the rise of grain production then replacing tobacco in importance as an agricultural commodity. Lee was a Quaker who came to Maryland from Bucks County. Pennsylvania, intentionally selecting a site along a river with ample power to support milling operations, with others following suit for similar reasons. This fostered many other industrial operations beyond milling that were also dependent on water power. As a result, the Little Gunpowder Falls featured prominently in the development of Maryland. The Jerusalem mill complex represents an early example of vertical integration as Lee’s operations included a tenant farmer who raised grain that was ground in the mill, and then was packed in barrels made on site through the sawmill and coopers shop for transport to distant markets.
Interestingly, Lee was a cousin to the Ellicott brothers, who founded the premier Maryland mill town at Ellicott Mills (later Ellicott City, just west of Baltimore) at about the same time. In fact, Lee traveled together with the Ellicotts to explore areas in Maryland conducive to the establishment of mill sites. Prior to establishing Jerusalem Mill, Lee apprenticed as a millwright. As a progressive agriculturalist, Lee convinced his neighbors of the value of grain over tobacco production and was among the first in the area to introduce fertilizers such as lime to replenish the soil. In 1816, the mill property was passed on to his son Ralph S. Lee, who produced cornmeal and flour. His son, David Lee II, took over in 1862. He diversified operations at the mill site to reintroduce a saw mill, as well as introducing a cider press and various retail operations. David Lee II was also instrumental in getting the nearby Jericho Covered Bridge constructed in 1865. The mill property remained in the Lee family until 1886, continuing to operate under water power into the 20th Century. The mill was converted to electricity after a flood broke the dam in 1940. It ceased operations in 1961 with the death of its last miller, John Bridges.
Today, you can visit the historic Jerusalem Mill village by walking around the grounds or visiting any of the buildings that are open to the public. The buildings that are open to the public are the grist mill (where the visitor center is located), blacksmith shop, springhouse, Miller's House and McCourtney's General Store. The Miller's House was once known as the gun shop, due to its for its alleged use during the American Revolutionary War for the production of gunstocks for the Maryland Militia. The McCourtney's General Store had its moment during the Civil War when a band of Confederate Cavalry under the command of Colonel Harry W. Gilmor swooped down and "requisitioned" nearly $1,000 worth of goods and horses. There are also some private residences that are around the Jerusalem Mill village that are understandably not open to the public.
|A private residence that blends in well with the historic Jerusalem Mill Village.
|McCourtney's General Store.
|Historic grist mill and visitor's center.
|The historic Baltimore and Jerusalem Turnpike is now part of US 1, known locally as Belair Road.
|Grist mill and miller's house.
|Little Gunpowder Falls.
|There is a garden behind the Miller's House. But since it was December, the growing season was done.
|Side profile of the blacksmith shop.
How to Get There (Jerusalem Mill):
Sources and Links:
Instagram - Jerusalem Mill Village
Maryland Historical Trust - Jerusalem Mill Village
Scenic USA - Maryland - Jerusalem Mill
Society of Architectural Historians - Jerusalem Mill
Visit Harford Maryland - Historic Jerusalem Mill Village
Enjoy Baltimore County Maryland - Historic Jerusalem Mill Village
Historic Jerusalem Mill Village - Welcome to the Historic Jerusalem Mill Village
Historic Jerusalem Mill Village - Photo Gallery
Maryland Department of Natural Resources - Gunpowder Falls State Park / Jerusalem Mill History