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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Jennifer Falkinburg, 09/2001
Savage Mill
Inventory No.: HO-213
Other Name(s): Savage Industrial Center
Date Listed: 4/18/1974
Location: Foundry Street & Washington Street , Savage, Howard County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: 1816-1948
Description: The Savage Mill is located on the north bank of the Little Patuxent River in the town of Savage. The mill is a complex of 15 buildings, built throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries. The oldest structure is the stone carding and spinning building, probably built between 1816 and 1823. It originally housed all of the activities of the industry until the mill was expanded in 1881. It was originally three stories tall, 16 bays long, and two bays deep. A fourth story of brick was added prior to the additions. Atop the present gable roof, near the eastern end of the structure, is an open belfry with eight narrow columns supporting a dome roof. From the framing of the roof, the original clerestory window placement can be determined. Each of the four stories consists of one huge room with center column supports running the length of the room. The 12/12 pane sash windows cast abundant light into the work areas. Access between stories of the old stone mill as well as the later additions is gained from the pre-1881 brick tower, which dominates the silhouette of the complex. It is the single most stylistic element in the mill, with Romanesque overtones in the corner pilasters and the corbeled brick cornice beneath its pyramidal roof. The roof also possesses small shed-roofed dormers on each of its four sides. The same type of corbeling is found in a vertical shaft resembling a high chimney on the east side of the courtyard. The latter portion of the building was used in preparing the raw cotton for spinning. On the opposite side of the courtyard is the weaving shed. Like the other two sides of the courtyard, the structure is two stories tall, but being a wider building than the other, additional light was supplied by the introduction of five light wells atop the flat roof. Connecting the weaving shed to the preparation area, on the north side, is the paymaster’s office, adjacent to the covered entrance to the courtyard. Within the courtyard are two small two-story office structures, part being an extension of the paymaster’s office. Later extensions include a huge warehouse on the west side, doubling the mill area, added in 1916, and two warehouses added on the south side of the complex in 1922. Prior to the latter construction, a hydroelectric plant (called the wheel house) was constructed on the banks of the Little Patuxent River, being fed by water taken from the mill race above. In 1918, a large two-story structure was built over the river which supplied electricity not only to the plant, but also to the entire town of Savage. It was operated by coal which was brought in by rail between the mill and the river. Elements of machinery remain in both the wheel house and the electric plant, though both buildings are in a dilapidated condition. The remainder of the structures are occupied by several tenants including cabinet and plaster shops, antique and furniture sales, and warehouses. Significance: Savage Mill is an important early-19th century industrial landmark. It is one of the oldest known surviving textile mills in Maryland, providing physical evidence that New England did not monopolize that industry in the 19th century. In fact, cotton production began in Maryland as early as 1808. The extensive additions to the original stone mill illustrate the growth of one participant in the industry which in the late 19th century counted on Maryland for the majority of the nation’s cotton duck. The site of Savage Mill on the rapids of the Little Patuxent River had been used for mill operations since the mid 18th century. In the early 1820s the Savage Manufacturing Company purchased the site, erected a factory, and installed machinery. John Savage of Philadelphia funded the company which still bears his name. The complex then included a mill, 500 acres of land, a warehouse, a flour mill, and a saw mill. When the company began producing cotton duck, 22 other Maryland factories were engaged in the same activity. By 1825 the mill employed 200 people including women and children, and 120 power looms. The complex included several additions: a grist mill, an iron foundry, and a machine shop. The company was sold to William H. Baldwin, Jr. in 1847, who owned the firm Woodward, Baldwin and Company, a well established Baltimore dry goods marketing company. Under Baldwin's management the enterprise at Savage prospered. The iron foundry resumed operations concentration in the production of cotton machinery. In the early 20th century, the company became Baldwin, Leslie and Company, and the mill was expanded in anticipation of wartime needs. By 1941 the company employed 325 people. Under wartime production the mill produced 400,000 pounds of cotton duck a month. In 1948 the mill closed, and in the 1950s it spent a brief period being used to manufacture Christmas ornaments before closing permanently. The mill has now been converted for use as a series of artists studios, shops, antiques stores, and a restaurant.


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