Peirce Mill, the last extant 19th century gristmill in the District of Columbia, remains the principal relic of the Peirce Plantation and a symbol of the milling industry that once flourished along Rock Creek. Peirce Mill’s massive millstones and wooden gears were powered by water to ground corn meal and flour for sale.
Built in the 1820s by Isaac Peirce, the Mill operated commercially until 1897 when the wooden machinery failed and it was no longer economically feasible to produce flour on Rock Creek. After the National Park Service took over Rock Creek Park, a depression-era restoration project was undertaken in 1935 and the mill operated once again. During the 30s and 40s it supplied flour and meal to government cafeterias. Repairs were carried out in the 60s and again in the 70s to keep the mill operating but finally, in April 1993, the wooden waterwheel shaft failed and the machinery has not turned since then.
Peirce Mill, and the adjoining Peirce Barn, both listed on the National Register of Historic Places, are maintained by the National Park Service. Now, under a partnership agreement between the Friends of Peirce Mill and the National Park Service, the structure and the machinery are undergoing restoration to preserve this historic landmark. Currently, the buildings are open to the public periodically as restoration activities permit. As soon as sufficient funds become available, the mill will be open and operating so that visitors can once again step back in time to enjoy the experience of being inside an operating 19th century water mill.
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