The tiny town of Wye Mills houses an historic two-and-a-half-story brick structure with a gaping hole in its original metal roof and vultures camped out in the attic.
Historians are desperate to save the Miller’s House, which dates back to 1740, because the home retains its original doors, windows, floors, and plaster. There have been no modern improvements—no kitchen, no bathrooms, no HVAC system to destroy the historic fabric, notes architect Ward Bucher, who nominated the site on behalf of Historic Easton. “The house has wonderful details, such as raised-wood paneling and hand-wrought hardware waiting to be discovered by Marylanders.”
The Miller’s House, owned by the original miller of Wye Mills, overlooks the state’s oldest operating grist mill, an integral part of the Wye Mill complex during the 18th and 19th centuries and one of the few vernacular houses remaining from that era, says Bucher. The structure was later owned by prominent colonial families, including the Helmsleys, Lloyds, and Bennetts.
Although the interiors are relatively intact, the building has severe exterior and interior structural problems and is unlikely to remain standing for another year without intervention.
“The loss of this house would mean the destruction of invaluable Eastern Shore history,” says Bucher. Saving it “will allow creation of a greatly expanded educational experience for visitors who will be able to walk through history and see how family life and commercial enterprises were interwoven.”
The site is owned by Virginian Bryan Kidd, who is considering donating the property.
For more information, visit www.oldwyemill.org.