Peirce Mill -Washington DC


Interior of Peirce Mill
NPS Photo

Peirce Mill is significant as the last existing mill in the District of Columbia and the only 19th-century gristmill maintained by the National Park Service that operates on a full-time basis. It stands as a unique symbol of the milling industry which flourished along Rock Creek. The mill’s owner, Issac Peirce, left his Quaker parents in Pennsylvania to seek his fortune in Maryland. After Maryland ceded 10 square miles to form the new Federal city, Peirce bought 150 acres along Rock Creek. By 1880 Peirce owned 1,200-2,000 acres of the land along Rock Creek, extending from Chevy Chase to the present National Zoological Park. Peirce built the present mill either in 1820 or 1829. He died in 1841 leaving his estate, including the mill, to his fourth child, Abner Cloud Peirce who continued to operate the mill.

Exterior of Peirce Mill
NPS Photograph

Between 1934 and 1936 Peirce Mill was restored as a Public Works Administration (PWA) project. The mill was again placed in operation on December 1, 1936, and ground corn meal and flour for use by government cafeterias. It was closed again in 1958 because of the lack of trained millwrights and a decrease in the water volume in the millrace. Since then, it has been maintained solely as a historic site. Visitors to Peirce Mill today can see old wooden gears and massive stones. A living museum, the mill represents part of the 1820s economy of America, an era when men tapped power from wind and water.

Peirce Mill is located at 2375 Tilden St., NW. It is open Wedneday through Sunday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm. Metro stop: Cleveland Park or Van Ness/UDC