Great Mills was one of Maryland’s first industrial districts. There was a mill here in the 1600's until it was destroyed by a flood.
The current mill, which was built upstream of the Great mill is now the Cecil Mill Historic District.
The Christmas Country Store and the Old Mill are:
Open mid-March – October 31: Fri & Sat
Open daily November 31 – December 23
Both are open to sell local handmade crafts and original art.
I have not been to this store
What to buy: Craft Supplies, Hobby, Toy, & Games such as
# FLORAL ARRANGEMENTS
# GEL CANDLES
# FABRIC CRAFTS
# DECORATIVE PAINTING
# PRIMATIVE WOODWORKING
# NEEDLE CRAFT
# DRIED FLOWERS & HERBS
# TOYS & DOLLS
# CHRISTMAS ORNAMENTS
# NAUTICAL ITEMS
# HOMEMADE BAKED GOODS
When we moved here 30 years ago, the Great Mills Trading Post was a second hand/antique type of store. But it is on the flood plain, and there's been some controversy about what type of business is here - they had used cars across the street and the possibility of contamination when there was flooding was a concern. There are still buildings over there with signs that say Great Mills Trading Post Shops..
Currently they deal in the following products:
# Sand & Gravel-Manufacturers
# Construction & mining machinery
# Garden Centers
# Truck Dealers Used
# Masonry Materials & Supplies
# Excavating Contractors
# Building Materials
# Builders & Contractors
# Top Soil & Fill Soil
# Automobile Dealers-Used
The Cecil Mill has two signs on it. The printing is very light in color, and I can't read one of them. This one says:
"In the early 1800s, the flourishing textile industry at Clinton Factory supported what was considered a
'cotton town'. Land was subdivided into small lots to accommodate housing for the growing community. Several of these small structures were located beyond the marker some of which were called 'Rat Hall'".
I did not realize that cotton was ever a product in this mill or in this area.
Apparently a textile mill, called the "Clifton Factory," was built on the current Cecil's Old Mill site by William Hebb, Peter Gough, and William Sommerville in 1810. The attemped cotton crop failed due to poor soil, and the textile machinery was later moved to Savage, Maryland. The saw and grist mill continued operation.
Then in 1900, John T. Cecil razed the old factory and built a three story roller mill. He retained the overshot water wheel with the main drive and gearing. The grist mill closed due to lack of trade in 1940. Apparently the mill was then used as a saw mill until the death of H. Robb Cecil in 1959.
The present mill has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, U.S. Department of the Interior, as part of the Cecil’s Mill Historic District. It s the last mill standing in this district which has historiclly been more agricultural than industrial. It was donated to the county by the Cecils in 1975, and was operated as an outlet for local crafts. The ownership was transferred to the Cecil Historic District in 1995
Fondest memory: From the Historic Preservation website:
".. is a 2 ½ story frame structure on stone and brick foundations, part of which remain from the earlier structure, with later shed additions. The mill produced flour and farm feeds until the early 1940’s, and retains virtually all of its machinery.
"The interior of the mill is of open bay construction, with grain elevators, drive shafts and machinery clustered in the center of all three floors. Power was captured by a large metal overshot water wheel and transmitted along a primary drive shaft running the length of the basement. A friction clutch transferred the power to other connecting rods and belts throughout the mill. A diesel generator was added in the 1920’s. (Cecil retained the gearing and main drive from the earlier building.) Included among the machines, which date from the mid-19th century through the early 20th, are a double rolling mill; corn grader; flour packer; scourer; corn sheller; feed grinders; scouring, polishing and separating machine; purifier; sifter; mixer; scalping chests; bran duster; dust collector; and grain polishers.
"The Clifton Factory operation was begun circa 1810 to manufacture woolen and cotton goods and to mill grain and wood. In addition to the mill buildings, there stood a weaving house, dairy, stables, smokehouse, tailor’s shop and workers’ houses. The Factory was never completely successful owing to dissension among the owners, and other factors."
For the next year (September 2004 to 2005) the Holy Face Church is celebrating the church's 125th anniversary.
In 1879, a Jesuit priest from St. Inigoes established a church at Clinton Factory which is now called Great Mills in a converted store. In 1887, construction of a new Catholic Church was started south of the present day building on land donated by John B. Cecil.
In 1924, the Cecil family donated the land at the top of the Great Mills hill where the current church, rectory and Little Flower school are. The original plans called for a large stone church, and it was hoped to have it finished by 1934 for the Maryland tricentenial. However, the depression and other monetary problems slowed construction and by 1940, only the basement had been dug.
Plans were revised and a frame church was designed and constructed along with the adjoining bell tower.
The school associated with Holy Face started as a school for young ladies in 1875 and the teacher was Maria Wise Hammett, a widow who later married William Cecil of the Ceicil family that gave the land for the church. In 1926, nuns staffed the new Little Flower School. The old school was burned by the fire department in 1972, the year before we moved to Leonardtown.
Fondest memory: I've always thought that Holy Face was a strange name for the church. I understand that this is the only church in the United States to have the name "Holy Face".
The church was named by "Miss Maria" (Maria Wise Hammett Cecil) after the Holy Face of Jesus that appeared on St. Veronica's veil . In 1880, a picture showing this image was sent to Miss Maria by Pope Leo XIII. This picture was in the church on the alter under a carved wooden arch until 1940 when the new church was built. It is now on display in a room in the current church.
For additional photos of the church and school see the travelogue.