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George Washington's Gristmill

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1932–1934. Mount Vernon Memorial Hwy. (VA 235), 3 miles west of Mount Vernon,.3 mile east of U.S. 1. Open seasonally to the public

An excellent example of the 1930s interest in reviving vernacular forms, this three-and-onehalf-story structure of semidressed stone was erected by the Virginia Department of Conservation and Economic Development on Dogue Run, across from the actual site of Washington's gristmill. Washington's father, Augustine Washington, constructed a mill c. 1730 on the opposite side of the creek; in 1770 its dilapidated state caused Washington to build a new one. In 1791 he contracted with Oliver Evans, a millwright and inventor, to remodel and upgrade the mill. In 1932, as part of the George Washington Birthday Bicentennial, the commonwealth of Virginia decided to recreate the mill. Henry Ford donated the stone, which came from his factory in Alexandria, and the waterwheel and gears came from a mill near Front Royal, Virginia, which Evans had constructed. The designer of the reconstructed mill was apparently R. E. Burson, a landscape engineer; Carl A. Ries drew up the plans and supervised the construction using a local workforce. The Civilian Conservation Corps cleared some of the property. On the exterior the restoration is fairly accurate; the interior framing is obviously modern. The “miller's cottage” stands on its original foundations, but it is more generically 1930s Colonial Revival than the mill. The complex originally contained a distillery, cooper's shop, and other buildings, but their reconstruction was never carried out.

Writing Credits

Author: 
Richard Guy Wilson et al.
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Citation

Richard Guy Wilson et al., "George Washington's Gristmill", [Alexandria, Virginia], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-NV48.

Print Source

Buildings of Virginia: Tidewater and Piedmont, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, 73-73.

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