Howard/McHenry Mill (18BA100)

The Howard-McHenry Mill Site (18BA100) is the location of a 19th-century mill and tenancy complex located west of Pikesville and the Gwynns Falls, in Baltimore County, Maryland. Archival research revealed that Howard’s Mill, owned by Cornelius Howard (Jr.), stood on a parcel resurveyed for Howard in 1793. During the period of Howard’s ownership two occupants were listed at the mill property (N. Marsh and M. Black). Howard was listed in the 1798 tax list as owning a 2-story stone mill house and two dwellings. Following Howard’s death in 1844, his estate was divided and the mill was conveyed to James Howard McHenry the great-nephew of Cornelius Howard. The estate then came to be called Sudbrook. Sidney’s 1850 map of Baltimore depicted the Howard-McHenry Mill but with only one structure labeled ‘grist and saw mill.'

An 1856 inventory listed a farm, grist mill, saw mill, a large frame dwelling, a stone barn, other outhouses, and 2 tenant houses on 102 acres. McHenry died in 1888 with no mention of the mill in his will or probate inventory. A mill ruin photographed in 1908 was identified as “Mill on Gwynns Falls near Pikesville.” The Howard-McHenry Mill parcel passed through a number of owners before the State of Maryland purchased the parcel in the late 1950s for highway development. During the late 1950s and 1960s, construction for the Baltimore Beltway (I-695) and the relocation of Old Court Road resulted in disturbance to the site.

The site was first identified in 1973 during a survey of the Northwest Transportation Corridor. In 1981 and 1982, the Maryland Geological Survey, Division of Archaeology undertook Phase II testing at 18BA100, excavating 334 shovel test pits. A minimum estimate of 4,007 historic period artifacts was collected from the Howard-McHenry Site.

An assessment of the ceramic sherds collected from the 344 STPs indicated that the mill tenants were over a lower-wealth economic status. Internal comparison between the earlier and later ceramic samples further suggested that the mill tenants lost economic ground through time. This change may have reflected economic conditions throughout the milling profession or it may have reflected a shift that occurred when the mill was shut down in the 1870s. The houses that the tenants occupied were likely small, vernacular frame structures. Within the context of 19th century flour milling in the Baltimore area, the Howard-McHenry Mill was a small local enterprise grinding wheat for a fee. It was typical of the small mills that ground flour for local consumption.

The Howard-McHenry Mill Site (18BA100), also known as the Old Court Road site, is the location of a 19th century mill and tenancy complex. Phase II excavations at Site 18BA100 revealed five apparent structures within the site area: a probable house with cellar hole and associated dairy in Area I, a possible domestic structure in Area II, what appears to be the mill in Areas III and IV (the mill would have been located in the depression), and a barn or stable in Area V. The historical significance of the site comes from its representation of the economic conditions of the tenant millers in residence there. Given the limited number of grist mill sites in Baltimore County that have been either identified or systematically studied, Site 18BA100 does represent a relatively scarce resource. No intensive occupation of the site occurred after ca. 1880 when it was abandoned.

(Edited from the Maryland Historical Trust Synthesis Project)


  • Hurry, Silas D., and Maureen Kavanagh
  • 1983. Intensive Archeological Investigations at the Howard-McHenry Site, a Nineteenth Century Mill/Tenancy MGS File Report No. 182.

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