860, High Street (MD 20), Chestertown, Kent County
Radcliffe Mill stands on the north side of High Street (MD 20) northwest of Chestertown. Radcliffe Creek and the tracks of a Penn Central Railroad spur lie to the west; the site of a mill pond (now filled) lies to the east. Radcliffe Mill consists of a Mill Building (1891), Grain Elevator (probably constructed around 1924), and Annex/Seed House. The main block of the mill building, constructed in 1891, measures 24' wide by 56'-8" deep. The south half is 4 stories with the upper 2 stories enclosed in a gambrel roof; the north half is 2 stories topped by a gable roof. The main block has a brick foundation, wood weatherboard, a corrugated metal gambrel roof, and an asphalt shingle gable roof. The east elevation of the main block has 5 window openings on the 1st floor and 4 on the 2nd. Two on the 1st floor are infilled with shiplap wood weatherboard; all others have 6/6 sash. Also on the east elevation is a loading bay with a sliding wood batten door on a metal track. The sliding door pulls aside to reveal French doors with a transom. The north and south elevations of the gambrel roof section have window openings with missing sash. On the west slope of the gambrel roof are two shed dormers infilled with plywood and corrugated metal. A recent corrugated metal canopy supported by wood posts extends across the southern half of the east elevation. A 1 1/2-story front-gable forebay projects from the south elevation of the main block, which originally housed water turbines. A one-story addition projects from the west elevation of the forebay. A two-story addition projects from the west elevation of the main block, with wood weatherboard on its west elevation and a standing-seam metal on its south elevation. A 3 1/2-story frame grain bin also projects from the west elevation of the main block, north of the west addition. A two-story L-shaped corrugated-metal addition wraps the north elevation and northwest corner of the main block. A one-story post-1980 concrete block addition extends north from the north addition. On the interior, earlier walls separating the main block, west addition, and north addition have been removed. A c. 1970 seed house and c. 1900 annex stand northeast of the Mill building. The frame annex, formerly used as a stable, is two-stories tall with a pier foundation and a corrugated metal cupola.
The present Radcliffe Mill complex is historically significant for its association with the development of agriculture and the associated grist milling industry in Kent County. The present complex dates to 1891 and occupies land along Radcliffe Creek that has been associated with milling for 300 years. A mill has operated in this approximate location from 1694 until 1997. Investors W. Eliason, C.T. Westcott, and T.W. Eliason, Jr. constructed the core of the present building as a roller mill in 1891. The Radcliffe Mill complex now consists of the mill, grain elevator, and annex/seed house. Radcliffe Mill is significantly associated with wheat cultivation, one of the mainstays of the rural economy of Kent County. The history of the mill and the evolution of its form reveal the effects of shifts in agriculture, transportation, and markets, especially the impact of mechanization on both agriculture and mill operations. Changes to the mill building and mill complex illustrate the impact of transportation and mechanization on the production and distribution of agricultural products. Alterations to Radcliffe Mill and its site directly relate to the functional evolution of the mill and do not affect the integrity of the mill's historic association. Situated on a National Scenic Byway, the mill is a prominent visual landmark marking the southern entrance to Chestertown, the county seat. Because of its long operation, Radcliffe Mill's period of significance extends from 1891-1955.