Peirce Mill, located within Washington D.C.’s scenic Rock Creek Park, was constructed in 1829 and stands as the only extant water-driven grist mill in the District of Columbia. The mill was designed and built by Isaac Peirce and served as the centerpiece to the family’s almost 2,000-acres. A sawmill, a distillery, a nursery, and orchards, along with other related enterprises, were also found on Peirce’s property. The vernacular mill, erected of blue granite quarried locally from the local landscape of Rock Creek, reflects the building traditions of Peirce’s own Pennsylvania Quaker heritage. Peirce Mill was one of eight situated along Rock Creek in the 19th century, each reflecting the importance this local industry played in the establishment and development of Washington, D.C. Peirce Mill is the sole remaining mill from this significant period in the history of Rock Creek Park and Washington, D.C. A part of Rock Creek Park since 1892 and under the direction of the National Park Service since 1933, Peirce Mill was meticulously restored to its original 1929 appearance as part of a Public Works Administration (PWA) project. This was one of the first preservation and restoration efforts undertaken by the National Park Service, and was conducted under the direction of Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes. The 1935 project, entitled “Restoration of Peirce Mill,” was supervised by esteemed architects and architectural historians Thomas Tikeston Waterman and Charles E. Peterson. Today, Peirce Mill is the only operational, early 19th-century grist mill maintained by the National Park Service.
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