Abbott’s Mill

Abbott Mill
Abbots Mill
Photo of Abbott's Mill Nature Center Exterior
Abbotts Mill Nature Center

Abbott’s Mill is located two miles southwest of Milford. The mill was added to the National Register on May 17, 1979. Milling was once a major part of the agricultural economy in Delaware. Anywhere that it was possible, a mill existed because grains such as wheat and corn were the chief crops. It has survived in excellent condition as a late nineteenth to an early-twentieth-century mill.

The site was originally owned by Nathaniel Whiley. In 1795 he built a saw mill here. After 1808 the area was run as a gristmill until 1960. Ainsworth Abbott, from whom the mill received its name, purchased the mill in 1919 and made several changes to it. A water wheel originally powered the mill, however, it was replaced in the late 1800s with a water turbine. Abbott then replaced the turbine with a diesel engine, hoping to be able to run the mill when the pond water level was low. Much of Abbott’s equipment and machinery remains at the mill and is in very good condition. At the time of the nomination for the National Register, it was hoped that the mill would one day operate again with the original Abbott equipment.

The mill is a two-and-a-half-story frame structure. Several wings were later added which is apparent through different styles of architecture. Although the superstructure has been rebuilt, the original foundation of an earlier mill still exists. The interior of the mill contained several pieces of machinery and chutes which carried the grain from the different levels of the building. Several outbuildings also remain on the property. One was used as a machine shop and another was used as a garage/stable. Just to the west of these buildings stands the miller’s house. Originally a one-story mill house was located there, but in 1905 the Gothic-style frame house was built.

Owned by the State of Delaware, Abbott’s Mill is currently leased to the Delaware Nature Society. The Society has built a Nature Center behind the mill buildings. Nature trails run through the undeveloped land to the rear of the property. Workshops, exhibits, walking trails, courses, and other programs are run daily at the Nature Center. School children often take field trips there. Abbott’s Mill also participates in several seasonal events including the Autumn at Abbott’s Mill Festival. For more information call 1-302-422-0847 or visit their web site.

Debbie Kenton
Wesley College

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