1001 & 1019, Taneytown Pike (MD 140), Westminster, Carroll County
The Roop’s Mill complex is located on the south side of Taneytown Pike about a mile west of Westminster. Meadow Branch Creek runs through the property, providing water for the millrace. The complex focuses on a three-story brick and stone mill, dating from c. 1795 and rebuilt in 1816, which retains machinery from various periods during its operation. The David Roop House, an 1825 stone dwelling, stands near the mill. A log cooper’s shed, an early two-part bank barn, and numerous farm sheds complete the mill and farmstead grouping. An innovative late-19th century iron suspension bridge provides pedestrian access across marshy Meadow Branch Creek, connecting the property near the bank barn to the 1860s brick John D. Roop House to the west. The mill itself is four stories high, constructed in 1816 on the stone foundation of a log mill building dating from the 1790s. The property was deeded in 1742. The brick mill was constructed according to the designs of Oliver Evans, who patented rights to several mill innovations and then charged prospective millers for the right to use his designs. The overall concept was a gravity feed system that allowed for efficient operation for processing flour as it moved downward through a multi-story building. The overshot waterwheel (later converted to a turbine and still intact) located on the ground floor inside the mill not only operated the grain mill but also an up-and-down sawmill (still intact) attached to the northwest corner of the building, and a cider mill (no longer extant). The exterior walls are approximately 18” thick, and the flooring is of wide wooden planks. On the second floor are three grinding stones, which were imported from France through the Port of Baltimore: one for wheat, to produce graham flour (the mill’s specialty), the second to grind oats and rye for cattle feed, and the third to grind yellow cornmeal. The roof was first sheathed in metal in 1898. The mill remained in continuous operation until 1919 and retains many of its original features and equipment, including an electrical generator installed by John D. Roop in 1914, run by the water-powered turbine. The electrical power produced by this generator was used to operate lights and machinery on the farm, and represents the first electrical system installed in Carroll County. The David Roop House, located immediately west of the mill, was constructed of stone in 1825, and later enlarged by successive stone, brick and frame additions. The two-story building’s three-bay facade faces Taneytown Pike to the north. A brick chimney rises from either gable end. A slate date stone inscribed “1825” is set in the top of the eastern chimney. Large stones form quoins at the corners, and single narrow stones span the architraves. Nine-over-six sash windows flanked by louvered shutters appear at the second floor level. The roof is covered with slate. Victorian changes include elongated 2/2 first-floor windows, an eastern brick two-story bay window, and adjoining single-story bay window, the front door with arched upper panels, and the front porch with square, chamfered posts, vine-patterned brackets, and X-crossed balustrade. The east end of the balustrade was originally closed by a gate.
The Roop’s Mill complex is historically significant for its association with the grist milling industry which supported the agricultural economy of rural Carroll County from the late 18th century through the early 20th century. The brick and stone mill building, constructed c. 1795 and rebuilt in 1816, exhibits a high degree of integrity and displays a range of technology from the late 18th century through the early 20th century. The remains of the sash saw and the hydroelectric system are especially rare. The variety of extant machinery is particularly significant. The complex derives additional significance for its architecture, as an example of a type of extensive farmstead and rural industrial operation comprising a wide variety of domestic, agricultural, and industrial buildings and structures including an addition to the mill, an early bank barn, and two significant dwellings, the 1825 David Roop House and the 1860s John D. Roop House. The pedestrian suspension bridge is the only example of its type in the region. Fewer than a half-dozen early grist mills survive in Carroll County to represent the importance of grain production in the region from the late 18th century through the 19th. Roop’s Mill is a particularly early and well-preserved example, and retains a complement of associated buildings and structures which is unique in the region. The mill ground wheat for graham flour, oats and rye for cattle feed, and corn for cornmeal throughout the 19th century, until c. 1955.