18 – Lehman’s Mill District, circa 1800-1869, north Washington County, MD
Marsh Pike goes north from Hagerstown through a mix of fields, commerce and new subdivisions. Further out, single homes of varying styles and ages face the road, interrupting the crops and pastures. Near the Pennsylvania state line, Lehman’s Mill Road intersects at a dip in the pike and heads east into an earlier century. Shortly a long wall, made of simulated-stone concrete block punctuated by pillars with pointed tops, appears on the right. This wall runs behind a neat brick and frame house that faces east, perpendicular to the road. A sign in front proclaims Country Memories. Thus begins the rural complex of buildings clustered around Lehman’s Mill.
The centerpiece of this complex, Lehman’s Mill, was built in 1869 on the coursed limestone foundations of an earlier stone mill. It is a gabled, two-and-a-half story, four-bay brick building with a basement that opens at ground level in the back. The front and the east sides both have wide, paneled Dutch doors opening at the first and second story levels. These doors were used to transfer products directly to and from those floors with the use of overhead pulleys. Large six-over-six windows and four-light transoms over the doors light the interior. A tablet in the front façade states that Hays and Company built the mill for H. F. Lehman in 1869. Across the road from the mill are the vestiges of the millpond whose waters once crossed under the road through a concrete raceway to power the mill. Lehman’s Mill, now run by electricity, still grinds flour and meal for a Greencastle, Pennsylvania, health food business, and is the only continuously operating mill in Washington County. Across the road from the mill are frame wagon sheds and a wagon scale used to weigh loads of grain. One has vertical siding and the other horizontal German siding, and both appear to date from the early 20th century.
The land around these buildings was originally held by General Thomas Sprigg, part of a 1,500 acre tract along Marsh Run which he called Sprigg’s Paradise. Upon Sprigg’s death in 1809, his estate was divided among his three children, and the northern section, with the original stone mill constructed by Sprigg, was inherited by his daughter Mariah and her husband Dr. John Reynolds. In 1832, the mill and 271 acres were sold to Joseph Emmert for $10,000. In 1846, he sold the mill farm, now 89 acres, to David Brumbaugh who already occupied the mill. Jacob Lehman purchased the mill farm in 1853 and then bought the mill the following year for $11,500.
When Jacob Lehman died in 1866, his eldest son Henry F., then 37 years old, inherited the mill and the farm. In 1869, Henry had the present mill constructed. Then about 1876, according to family recollection, he built a new residence for himself: the brick and frame farm house with the simulated stone wall first mentioned in this article. This home, built to face toward the mill, has a four-bay, two-story brick section with a two-bay frame wing to the south. The interior of the brick section was originally divided across the width of the structure into three rooms, and exterior doors in the east wall accessed each room. Perhaps Henry Lehman used an area of his home for business and thus needed another entrance to that area.
The room on the north side of the house is roughly twice as large as the other two were. The partition wall between these rooms has been removed, creating two large rooms in the downstairs. The main entrance is in the second bay from the south, and the door in the other middle bay has been turned into a window. This door has been so artfully converted into a window using matching moldings that the change is not apparent.
This home remained in the Lehman family until about five years ago when the Motz family purchased it. Always well cared for, and not substantially altered, this charming farm house provides a perfect setting for Country Memories, Cindy Motz’s wholesale country accessories business. Stenciled borders decorate many of the rooms and an original peg rail is found in one of the closets. A few pieces of woodwork still have original painted graining. Windows have six-over-six sashes with original cast iron window stays, and interior doors have four panels and cast iron locks.
The kitchen was in the frame wing of the house, but the cooking fireplace has been removed and a more modern kitchen added to the back of the wing. The pantry is now a first floor bath. Just beyond the back porches of the frame wing is another two-story, two-room structure with steep stairs and some original woodwork. Although this structure is not yet done, Cindy Motz plans an office there to house the portion of her business now filling her large, dry basement. All the sections of concrete around this house are inscribed with dates and initials. One has a 1905 Indian head penny embedded in it, and the smokehouse wall has a recipe for lye soap penciled on the wall.
Paula Reed has done the extensive research upon which this article is based and has applied for Historic District designation for the area around Lehman’s Mill from the National Register of Historic Places. If all goes well, the aged buckeye trees that canopy the road through the Lehman’s Mill district will soon shade a community restored to its 19th century appearance.
Epilogue: Ronald and Cindy Motz Brezler purchased the mill in November 1996. The Brezlers removed most of the milling machinery and retained the rest to maintain the atmosphere of the mill. The Brezlers cleaned and repaired and had a new roof added along with a heating system. They sandblasted walls and painted. In 1998, after two years of renovation, they closed the wholesale business and opened Lehman’s Mill as a retail store for country furnishings.