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In 1682 Nicholas Newlin acquired a 500-acre land grant from William Penn. His son Nathaniel built the grist mill on this land in 1704, first to produce flour for the community and then for export. It was owned by the Newlin family until 1817 when William Trimble purchased the mill. Later, it was owned by members of the Sharpless and Hill families. The mill continued to operate commercially until 1941.
In 1956, it was purchased and restored by E. Mortimer Newlin, ninth-generation descendant of Nicholas Newlin.
During its two-and-a-half centuries of operation, the mill ground wheat, corn, oats, buckwheat, and rye. The mill produced food for both people and animals as well as ingredients for brewing and distilling. Today, corn is ground into cornmeal which can be purchased in the Visitor Center. The mill continues to operate using water power as it did when first opened in 1704.
In 1739, Nathaniel Newlin III (grandson of Nathaniel Newlin) built a stone house adjacent to the mill in order to attract a miller and his family. The house is referred to as a two-over-two plan consisting of two rooms upstairs and two rooms downstairs. Originally, a detached bake house served the family. Today a beehive oven has been added outside the kitchen fireplace. A third story and rear addition were added circa 1860 but the top floor was removed when the house was restored in the 1970s.
The house is furnished with the Elizabeth Newlin Collection, consisting of 18th-century decorative arts acquired by Elizabeth Battles Newlin. Mrs. Newlin was particularly interested in early lighting devices.
The original house was built in 1740-42 by William and Anne Trimble, owners of a mill downstream from the Newlin’s mill. It began as a simple two-story, four-room, banked house. By 1765, the house had been expanded several times to accommodate William Trimble’s second wife and growing family. William Trimble, Jr. purchased the adjacent grist mill in 1817 from the Newlin family.
The house remained in the Trimble family until the late 19th century when it became the property of Samuel Hill, new owner of the grist mill. Few structural changes were made over the years, and much of the original flooring, woodwork, doors, and hardware remains intact. The house features nine fireplaces and a 53-foot-deep stone well. This building is an excellent example of an 18th-century residence. In 1998, the Newlin Foundation acquired the Trimble House.
Behind the Miller’s House is a bank barn designed for sheltering animals and hay storage. Relocated from a northern Delaware farm and erected on this site in 1986, the barn serves as a reminder that daily life in the 18th century revolved around animal power and agricultural rhythms.
The structure that serves as the Visitor Center for the Newlin Grist Mill was originally built as a railroad station in 1857 on the Pennsylvania Railroad’s Octorara branch. Known as Markham Station, it also served as a post office and residence. The ticket office was closed by the mid-1900’s, but the rail line continued service until 1971 when a severe flood damaged bridges and destroyed several miles of track.
Beginning in the 1960’s, the Nicholas Newlin Foundation used the station house as a residence and then as an office and reception area. With the help of a team of restoration specialists, the station house was refurbished in 2000 to reflect its original mid-19th-century appearance, including the formal Victorian wallpaper on the interior. It reopened as the Visitor Center several months later with staff offices, a large meeting room, and public restrooms added to its west side.
In May 2001, the station house was officially dedicated and named the William Ver Planck Newlin Visitor Center after a descendent of the original Newlin family and a long-time trustee of the Nicholas Newlin Foundation.
In the first half of the 18th century, the Newlins built a general store next to the mill. The store was constructed over the top of the mill’s tailrace, which was enclosed by an arched masonry tunnel. For many years, it served as a store and residence. It continued to serve as center of commercial activity into the 20th century when it became a book and antique store. It now houses the archives and library of the Nicholas Newlin Foundation and the Society for the Preservation of Old Mills (SPOOM).
The Nicholas Newlin Foundation reconstructed the Blacksmith Shop in 1975 using local field stone. The shop design was inspired by the nearby McKinley blacksmith shop. The reconstructed shop contains McKinley’s original 18th-century forge, as well as a collection of tools recovered from the early blacksmith shop before it was dismantled. The blacksmith shop at Newlin Grist Mill is open for demonstrations on weekends from March to December.