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Maryland's National Register Properties

Photo credit: Jennifer Falkinburg, 08/2003
Brookeville Woolen Mill and House
Inventory No.: M: 23-69
Other Name(s): Riggs House
Date Listed: 9/6/1978
Location: 1901 Brighton Dam Road , Brookeville, Montgomery County
Category: Building
Period/Date of Construction: House - by 1783; Mill - by 1816
Description: The Brookeville Woolen Mill and House consists of two buildings constructed of rubble masonry, featuring stone quoins at the corners and stone lintels over the windows and doors. The woolen mill is a small one-story structure built into the bank on its entrance (west) facade, leaving the basement level exposed on the east. The steep gable-front roof was covered with wood shingles until the mid 20th century. The interior framing members consisted of several cross-beams and joists, some hewn and some sawn, until the roof was replaced. Small loft doors pierce the east and west gable ends of the attic story, with doors beneath each on the main floor. The west door is slightly left of center, and incorporates a window to the left of the door. The stonework has been changed around the main entrance facade, however, so that the present door and window combination may have appeared differently in the past. A basement door, similar to those seen on other mills, appears in the northeast corner. There are windows in the north and south sides of the building. On the interior, there is a fireplace base built into the southeast corner at the basement and main floor levels, with openings for stoves. The chimney, brick above the wall line, is flush with the south side of the east wall of the building. The walls are plastered on the interior, but as the building was used as a residence during the mid 20th century, no evidence of machinery or mill equipment remain. The overgrown mill race is still visible, as is the stone foundation of a building to the north which may have been associated with the mill operation. South of the mill are two stone worker's houses, at least one of which may have been restored. To the southwest of the mill is a three bay by two bay 1 1/2-story stone house, facing east toward the mill and the Hawlings River below. A two-story shed-roofed porch covers the exposed basement and first floor of this facade, but this seems to have been a replacement for an earlier porch. A central entrance pierces each floor, flanked by 6/6 sash windows, which were reportedly 9/6 prior to 20th century renovations. There is a transom over the first-floor entrance. Pairs of small attic windows flank the massive flush chimneys at each gable end, and the west bay of the south gable end holds a 9/6 sash window. Prior to renovations, the small attic windows held casement windows. A molded, returned cornice appears at the rear of the house only. Attached to the rear (west) of the house is a 1 1/2-story frame wing, mid 19th century in appearance. It has a central brick stove chimney, metal roof, and German siding. There are pairs of 3/3 half-sized fixed windows tucked into the eaves on the north and south sides; the south facade of this wing is covered by a partially enclosed shed-roofed porch on the first floor. A single 6/6 sash window pierces the first and half stories on the west gable end of the wing. On the interior, the stone portion of the house has a full-story basement, with a massive open fireplace that features an arched brick lintel. The flooring and sawn floor joists with chamfered edges are visible above, An interesting X-shaped brace, pegged through several tenons, helps support the enclosed staircase in the northeast corner. The main floor of the house contains two rooms with large fireplaces with mantels salvaged from a 19th century house in Baltimore. The window an door frames throughout have wide beaded moldings, with original molded baseboards and new chair rails. The narrow staircase with a slender rail and turned newel post and enclosed stair hall to the basement are of particular note, as is the built-in closet in the northwest corner, with hand-carved double doors consisting of three raised panels in each door. Significance: The house, mill, and natural setting at the site of the Brookeville Woolen Mill comprise one of the most significant historical complexes in Montgomery County. The Hawlings River Valley was one of the first areas to be settled, and indications are the house may have been built by the Riggs family, who later became well-known bankers and merchants in Washington and Baltimore. Architecturally the house is unique to Montgomery County in its overall design, and for selected interior features. In addition, its style may be compared to similar dwellings in areas such as Loudon County, Virginia and Harford County, Maryland. Few woolen mills from the early 19th century remain, and therefore the Brookeville Woolen Mill, despite its lack of surviving milling equipment, is a unique survivor. The house was most likely constructed prior to 1783, when a tax assessment of the property mentions several "stone dwelling houses." It is similar in style and construction to other Piedmont stone houses of the 1750-1800 period, and is especially similar to the old Duvall house, that stood on Rock Creek near Kensington, at the site of Newport Mills (c. 1774). Some time during the early 19th century, David Newlin, who already owned a mill within Brookeville, built a woolen factory on the Hawlings, about a mile northeast of Brookeville. An ad for the Brookeville Woolen Factory appeared in a Georgetown newspaper in 1816. Therefore, the mill was likely built prior to that date.


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