An Annville landmark needs a new owner to maintain its status as the longest operating mill in the United States.
Brandt’s Mill at 545 West Queen Street went up for auction in August last year but failed to find a buyer.
One bid attempt to make it a wedding venue stalled due to the need to re-zone the land, according to Shawn Kilpatrick, president of McGreary Grain, which currently owns the property.
The New York Times in 2008 and then the Washington Post in 2011 both covered McGreary Grain’s plan to use the property for its Daisy Flour brand, which was already being milled at the facility. By that point, the purchase was already about a decade in the past, and in the time since McGreary Grain has learned a lot about the organic market, as well as the local community, and he remains optimistic about both. “I would love nothing more than seeing it remain a mill,” said Kilpatrick in our interview, who noted that he has been reaching out to local conservancy and advocacy groups to explore all options for preserving the site.
At this point, he thinks the perfect buyer would be an organic wheat farmer(s) who wanted to make their own flour. Someone with control of the enterprise could take it over with no change in zoning, as the mill has continued to nominally operate so it maintains its status. Organic food remains a popular growth focus for grocers.
The company is willing to work with serious buyers and based on the acreage there, the property sounds like it could be made affordable for the appropriate buyer. Ironically, the property’s biggest drawback is in fact the very reason it was placed there nearly 280 years ago: Its proximity to the Quittie. A dam on the creek was the original power source for the mill, which relied on an undershot wheel that caused the millstones to turn. A lot of the site sits in the flood plain, and the mill has been inundated such as in 1972 and 2011.
Annville’s founder, Andrew Miller, may have built the mill, as he is listed in the 1753 advertisement in the Pennsylvania Gazette (aka Ben Franklin’s newspaper). The ad notes the facility’s access to a fresh stream and describes it as being 8 miles from Grubb’s Furnace. Two large limestone houses still stand next to the mill dating back to the 1800’s, although they are not part of the mill property.
David Groh Brandt purchased the property in 1906. It would stay in his family until 1980, at which point it was sold to Mark Hershey. The property was repurchased by David Brandt in 1998 following Mark Hershey’s passing, and then sold to McGreary in 2002. The Brandts were responsible for moving the mill from water to gas and then electric power and their long ownership of the property is why it’s known as “Brandt’s” Mill, although the site has gone through a number of hands over the years.
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