The Old Schwamb Mill exists as a complex of three buildings (Main Mill Building, the Dryhouse, and the Barn), which utilized water power and steam power more than 100 years ago to manufacture finely crafted natural wood and gilded frames during America’s “Gilded Age.” The Mill is rare as a vernacular architectural survivor, as well as for a collection of preserved and historically significant workplaces and rooms which have maintained continuous industrial operations since 1864.
The Main Building
As an industrial building, the main structure was rebuilt after an 1861 fire destroyed a spice grinding mill and then sat vacant for three years. Charles and Frederick Schwamb purchased the property and started their picture frame business in 1864. The Old Schwamb Mill Museum contains and protects multiple generations of this family’s tools and machinery. The Main Building of the Old Schwamb Mill was rebuilt on the 200-year-old foundations of glacial boulders that mark the original water powered grist and saw mill. Added were two additional ells, c.1869 and c.1883, to accommodate the growing woodworking business contained principally in this building.
Like other industrial landmarks of its broad, general type (post-and beam framed mill building, formerly water powered, complete with manufactory era machines) the Old Schwamb Mill’s memorable interiors provide visitors with an authentic, frozen in time experience which celebrates the American Industrial Revolution, the enterprise of Civil War era entrepreneurs and employment opportunities for a largely immigrant work force.