Warwick Mills, Warwick Township, Chester County, Elverson PA 19520

Warwick Mills

Warwick Twp, Chester County, PA

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Warwick Mills was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Portions of the content on this web page were adapted from a copy of the original nomination document. [1]

The grist mill is largely unchanged in exterior appearance, although its milling machinery has been thoroughly modernized. Constructed of random fieldstone, it has a gable roof and a projecting hoist at the west gable end. Because the site slopes, the mill's height varies with the elevation; it is four stories high on the west elevation, three stories high on the south elevation, and two stories high on the east and north elevations. Most of the windows have six-on-six lights. There are entrances on each floor of the central bay of the west elevation, permitting delivery of hoisted materials to each floor. The mill building is three bays wide across each elevation. Alterations have included replacement of many of the windows, and the attachment of a one-story shed-roofed concrete block and frame addition to the mill's south elevation. In 1949 an engine room was added and diesel machinery installed; the machinery has since been removed.

The manor house is built of random fieldstone with large corner quoins, but was probable covered with stucco originally. The house is two and one-half stories high, four bays wide across the west elevation, and two bays deep at the ends of the gable roof. There is a chimney, recently rebuilt, at the north gable end, and an entrance in the south gable end. First floor windows have six-on-nine lights and panelled exterior shutters. The upper floor windows have six-on-six lights and louvered exterior shutters. The cornice has been replaced and the roof resurfaced. In the late nineteenth century a two-story random fieldstone addition was made to the house's east elevation and a summer kitchen was built. Mid-twentieth century changes to the house's interior have included the replacement of the center hall stairway, conversion of window recesses from curved to square, and replacement of two front doors by windows. The summer kitchen has been replaced by a two-story frame addition; front and back porches and a garage were added at the same time.

The small stucco-over-stone tenant house is located north of the mill and south of the manor house. It is closer to its original appearance than is the manor house, but is in bad repair. The house is two and one-half stories high, four bays wide across the west (front) elevation and two bays deep at the ends of the gable roof. There is a chimney at each gable end. First-floor windows have six-on-nine lights; second-floor lights are six-on-six. During the nineteenth century a one-story shed roofed wooden porch replaced the pent eave between first and second floor on the west elevation. A one and one-half story stucco-over-masonry addition was made to the house's east elevation.


The Warwick Mill complex includes a late-eighteenth century stone grist mill, an early nineteenth century stone manor house and a small early nineteenth century stone tenant house which is located near the mill. It was probably intended as a dwelling for a mill operator.

The grist mill was probably built by Jacob Winance (also spelled Winands or Winings) between 1783 and 1785. The date is determined by reference to his tax records. In addition to owning the mill, Jacob Winance was an ironmaster.

Jacob Hager bought the property in 1797. At that point, the grist mill was the only building on the property. Tax records and newspaper advertisements indicate that the manor house and tenant house were built by Hager before 1828.

Benjamin James bought the mill in 1864, and the James family owned and operated the mill for over 100 years. The grist mill is still owned by a member of the James family, although its operation was discontinued in 1968.

The Warwick Mill, or James Mill as it was later called, exemplifies the small late-eighteenth or early nineteenth century grist mill complex of the type essential to the economic development of an agricultural area. The complete complex remains — mill, manor house, and a smaller tenant house. Of note also, are the remarkable length of the grist mill's continuous operation nearly 200 years, and its operation by a single family for over 100 of those years.


Daily Local News. West Chester, Pa. November 17, 1884. November 18, 1884: August 30, 1949.

Futhey, J. Smith and Gilbert Cope. History of Chester County Pennsylvania. Philadelphia: L. H. Everts, 1881.

Heathcote, Charles W. (Ed.) History of Chester County. Pennsylvania. Harrisburg: National Historical Association, 1932.

Thomson, W. W. Chester County and Its People. Chicago: Union History Co., 1948.

Physical Description

Warwick Mills Property is situated along either side of James Mill Road in Warwick Township, Chester County, Pennsylvania. The historic property was subdivided in the twentieth century into several parcels. The historic property included a mill, a springhouse, millrace and pond, miller's house, barn and associated outbuildings, and manor house, along with fields. These elements of the property are now situated on seven separate tax parcels. The mill and springhouse are owned by George R. Jr. and Melinda James of 301 James Mill Road and are situated on the 0.93 hectare (2.3 acre). The miller's house is owned by John J. Jr. and Judith J. Lawrence of 311 James Mill Road and is situated on the 0.85 hectare (2.1 acre). The manor house is owned by Kevin L. and Ella Marie Kean of 321 James Mill Road and is situated on the 0.89 hectares (2.2 acre). Additionally, two parcels comprise 16.07 hectares (39.7 acres) situated on the south side of the creek and are an open pasture, part of the James Revocable Living Trust. The barn, a chicken coop/vehicle storage building and shed are situated on the 4.65 hectare (11.5 acre) which is also part of the Trust. Warwick Mills is commonly known as the James Mill, and James Mill Road is named after this property.

Warwick Mills was listed on the National Register in 1975. This is an update to the National Register Nomination submitted for the property since the nomination does not discuss all of the buildings and structures on the property.

The Warwick Mills Property is named after the eighteenth-century grist mill situated on the north bank of the South Branch of French Creek on James Mill Road. The mill is more commonly known as James Mill since the James family has owned the mill for over one hundred years. The three bay by three bay grist mill is oriented roughly north-south. It is rectangular in plan and banked into a hill on the west, so that its only two stories are exposed along this facade. The mill is actually three and one-half stories, including the basement and upper half story. The mill is constructed of fieldstone, and the remnants of stucco cladding are evident on the building. The mill's gable roof is clad with asphalt shingles. The roof overhangs the south gable end and once supported a hoist mechanism. A stone chimney sheathed with stucco is situated off center on the east slope of the roof. A concrete block addition to the east wall of the mill was constructed to house a diesel engine in 1949 (Winsor 1972). The mill ceased to function in 1968, and since that time it has been converted to a residence.

The principal facade of the mill faces James Mill Road to the south. The configuration of the south facade is typical of eighteenth and nineteenth-century grist mills in southeastern Pennsylvania. It is three bays wide with two windows flanking a central door on each of the stories. The windows contain six-over-six double hung sash, except the main story, which contains six-over-nine windows. A modern, wood porch leads up to the door of this story. A date stone is visible in the gable, but it is weathered and unreadable.

The west facade of the mill currently houses the main entrance to the building. It is three bays wide with a central entrance. A modern entry porch shelters the door. Evidence of an arched opening near ground level at the north end of this facade identifies where the head race once entered the building. The fenestration on the north and east sides of the mill has been altered slightly. One of the windows in the first story has been enclosed in the north gable. The concrete block addition built to house the diesel engine is situated at the south end of the east facade. A sunroom was recently constructed using the one story engine room as its foundation. One window in the main story was converted to a door to access the sunroom. Wood stairs lead from the sunroom to the rear yard and flower gardens along the creek.

The mill was not altered drastically from its historic configuration when converted to a residence. The fenestration was changed only minimally. The entrance and exit for the head race were enclosed earlier when the mill ceased to be powered by water. The interior of the building is rustic, with exposed, hewn beams and patched holes in the random width board floors. Changes to the interior of the mill do not compromise the architectural integrity of the building.

The current owners of the property filled an area of the yard to the north of the mill with a pond. A modern gazebo is perched on the edge of the pond. A stone springhouse is situated north of the northwest corner of the mill. The random fieldstone walls of the springhouse support a shed roof. A cantilevered porch shelters the board and batten door and six-pane window in the south wall. This appears to be the only springhouse associated with Warwick Mills. A stone spillway that has been converted to a stairway leading to the garden is present between the springhouse and mill. The head race splits just west of the mill allowing the excess water to flow through the spillway north of the mill and back into the South Branch of French Creek.

The miller's (tenant) house is situated slightly uphill, northwest of the mill. It is stone, stands two stories, and has a rectangular plan. Stone chimneys are situated at either end of the gable roof. The roof is sheathed with asphalt shingles. A rear, one-story shed kitchen was once attached to the north wall of the house. The kitchen was removed in recent years and a larger two story addition constructed. Although the original rectangular plan house survives, its fenestration has been altered. It is four bays wide and two bays deep. The fenestration along the principal, or south, facade is now comprised of four windows in the both the first and second stories. Photographs included with the 1972 National Register Nomination indicate that this was a typical Pennsylvania house with two front doors flanked by two windows. Since 1972 the house was renovated and the masonry reworked so that no evidence of the doors survives. The shed porch shown in the photographs was also removed.

The gable walls of the house are two bays deep. The west gable retains its historic configuration of two windows in the first and second stories. Two lowered vents in the west gable allow air circulation in the attic. The east gable lacks windows or doors except for a four-pane window in the attic. A photograph submitted with the National Register Nomination shows a shed porch along this side. Presumably, at least one door or window was filled in the first story.

A low stone retaining wall runs west along the north side of James Mill Road from in front of the tenant house to the driveway of the manor house. Although larger, the manor house is similar in construction to, and has been altered in much the same way as the tenant house. The manor house is also constructed of stone, stands two stories, and has a gable roof. It is four bays wide and two bays deep with a two story rear ell. Like the tenant house, the manor house once had two front doors. They were enclosed, the stone reworked to hide the ghosts of the doors, and windows were inserted. The porch was also removed. Renovations to the manor house predate those to the tenant house. The manor house appears today much as it did in the photographs included with the National Register Nomination. - The other surviving buildings and structures on the property are situated on the south side of James Mill Road, north of the creek. The cluster of agricultural buildings date to the nineteenth century. They are roughly centered between the tenant house and manor house, but on the opposite side of the road. The main building is a stone bank barn situated just off the south edge of James Mill Road. It is rectangular in plan with its gable roof running parallel to the road. Standing seam metal sheathes the roof. The walls of the barn are clad with stucco and its eaves contain vertical wood siding.

Two sets of sliding doors and one six-over-six window comprise the front, or north, facade. An earthen bank leads up to these doors, which open onto the threshing floor. The window lights the ground-level stable. Paired windows along the east gable also light the stable. The windows along the west gable are enclosed. A forebay extends out from the main block of the building along the south wall. Multiple doors and windows allow access to the stable along the south facade. A three sided, low stone wall is situated to the rear of the barn.

A vehicle storage building with chicken coop is situated to the east of the barn. The building is also situated just off the south edge of James Mill Road. It is one story and its frame walls rest on a stone foundation. The foundation is partially covered with stucco, and the walls are clad with horizontal wood. Its gable roof is sheathed with standing seam metal. Two sets of sliding doors comprise the north facade. A six-over-six window lights the east gable. The frame chicken coop is a shed addition to the rear, or south, wall of the storage building. It is also sheathed with horizontal wood. Six-pane and six-over-six windows light the coop. A board and batten door is situated at the east end of the south wall.

A concrete block shed is situated to the south of the vehicle storage building. It is rectangular in plan with a gable roof set perpendicular to the barn and storage building. The roof is sheathed with asphalt shingles. The shed has two board and batten doors in its east wall.

The area to the south of James Mill Road on either side of the creek is pasture. Wood fences run along the road, around the agricultural buildings, and along the far side of the creek. The millrace once diverged from the creek to the south of the agricultural buildings, ran diagonally across the pasture, under the road and into the mill. A wetlands area in the pasture is all that survives of the race.

Historic Narrative

The mill property is named Warwick Mills in the 1972 National Register Nomination, but no explanation of the name is given. The property is situated adjacent to the Warwick Furnace Property, but it is not clear whether the mill was ever associated with the furnace complex. The mill property was in the possession of David Potts, Jr. in the mid-nineteenth century. Several members of the Potts family owned land in the vicinity of the mill property, including Nathaniel Potts, owner of the Warwick Iron Works (furnace). Nathaniel and Thomas Potts were executors of David Potts, Jr.'s will, and in 1864 and 1873 they sold parcels containing the mill and adjacent pasture to Benjamin F. James (Chester County Deeds). The mill was operated by members of the James family until it was closed in 1968. Although the property has been divided, members of the James family still own the majority of land historically associated with the mill.

The mill was constructed in the late eighteenth century by Jacob Winance (or Winnings), a miller and ironmaster, between 1783-1785. Jacob Hager purchased the mill property in 1797 (Chester County Deeds). The 1797 deed details the sale of the mill as including "scales, weights and measures, windmill, rolling screen, and rights to repair a holding basin that was located on the property immediately to west" (Loomis and Philips 1975-76:n.p). Jacob Hager is credited with constructing the tenant house and manor house between 1797 and 1828. The mill passed from the Hagers in 1829 to John Starrett, a miller from Union Township in Berks County (Loomis and Philips 1975-76:n.p). In 1855, the mill was purchased by David Potts, Jr. and then passed to Benjamin F. James. An 1873 map shows that James operated both a grist and saw mill on the site at first, but by the time the 1883 Atlas was produced, had switched exclusively to grinding grain for feed and flour (Breou 1883). The mill had an average production of 25 barrels per day. The mill operated by water power until it was converted to diesel power run by a large engine in 1949 (Winsor 1972). The bank barn and vehicle storage building appear to have been constructed during the mid-to-late nineteenth century. The barn is shown on the property in the 1883 Atlas (Breou 1883). The shed is an early twentieth-century building. The basic configuration of the property has not changed significantly since the construction of these agricultural buildings.

Warwick Mills was listed in the National Register in 1975. As stated in the nomination, "the Warwick Mills, or James Mills as it was later called, exemplifies the small late-eighteenth or early-nineteenth-century grist mill complex of the type essential to the economic development of an agricultural area." The property's significance lies in its ability to help define economic trends and historic settlement in the area and its architectural integrity. Although some of the historic buildings have been altered since the 1970s, their relationship to the landscape and to one another survives. The historical significance of the property has not diminished and the complex as a whole retains sufficient architectural integrity to still be eligible for listing on the National Register.


Breou, J., 1883, Breou's Original Series of Farm Maps, Chester County, PA. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: W. H. Kirk and Company. On file at Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.

Bridgens, H. F.and A. R Witmer, 1873, Atlas of Chester County, Pennsylvania. Safe Harbor, PA: A. R Witmer. On file at Chester County Historical Society, West Chester, PA.

Loomis, Betty K. and Ada P. Philips, 1975, The Forgers of Coventryville, Knouertown, St. Peters, and Warwick. Chester Co.: Bicentennial Publication by Warwick School.

National Park Service, 1991, "How to Apply the National Register Criteria for Evaluation." National Register Bulletin Number 15. National Park Service, Washington, D.C.

National Park Service, 1987, "How to Establish Boundaries for National Register Properties." National Register Bulletin Number 21. National Park Service, Washington, D.C.

United States Geological Survey, 1974, Elverson, PA Quadrangle. 7.5 minute series, edition of 1956, photo revised 1969 and 1974.

Winsor, Eleanor W., 1972, National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form for Warwick Mills. Washington, DC: National Park Service.

  1. Winsor, Eleanor W., French & Pickering Creeks Conservation, The Warwick Mills, nomination document, 1972, National Park Service, National Register of Historic Places, Washington, D.C.

Nearby Neighborhoods

Street Names
James Mill Road

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