Bondsville Mill Park

 


The site where the Bondsville Mill Park on Bondsville Road in Chester County's East Brandywine Township is located has long been the site of mills. There have been grist mills on the site of what is now Bondsville Mill Park since the 18th Century, but the remains of a woolen mill where Bondsville Mill Park is located was established in 1841. Abraham Bond, believed to be the third owner of the mill, opened the Bond Woolen Factory established the factory village of Bondsville, not far from Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

The Bond Woolen Factory produced blue jeans through its tenure during the 1840s. Unfortunately, a fire severely damaged the mill in 1844, but it was not the end of the mill. Rather, it was a catalyst for a number of changes and improvements for the future of the mill. In 1848, William McFarland purchased the mill, and during the Civil War, the mill produced uniforms for the Union Army. In 1864, James Roberts acquired the mill and by 1870, the mill was powered by water and steam, no longer depending primarily on the water wheel and mill race for power. The mill closed down in 1894 due to the economic ripple effects of the Panic of 1893. The Bondsville Mill site sat idle for a while after that time.

Then in 1906, Fredrick Pearson purchased the mill and operated it until his death in 1925. The Collins & Aikman Corporation purchased the mill property in 1927 and produced automobile upholstery cloth at the site. During World War II, the mill produced various products for the military including fabric for Air Force jacket lining, using all of their resources to help with the war effort. After the war, the mill produced men's and women's wear fabrics, as well as their Candalon brand of woven nylon which was used in automobile upholstery. In 1954, the Collins & Aikman Corporation closed the mill when they moved their operations to the Southern United States and then the site was used as a warehouse for a few years during the 1960s.

The Bondsville Mill site laid abandoned from 1965 to 2005, when East Brandywine Township purchased the property around the mill. Through the work of volunteers, the mill site has been largely restored. Bondsville Mill opened as a park in 2014, features nature trails around the property, along with an interpretive tour around the perimeter of the mill site. Since the mill closed during the 1960s, some of the buildings at Bondsville Mill were left intact, allowing for a good idea of what went on within the walls of the mill for over a century.


One of the mill site buildings still in use. I believe this serves as an impromptu office and visitor's center at times.

Some of the mill buildings now in disuse.


The remains of the mill race. The now dry mill race brought water from the mill pond located west of the park to provide a constant supply of water to power the water wheel. The mill race was later filled in behind the mill to supply coal for the steam boilers.

Interpretive sign.

Behind the mill.

There is a nature trail that goes up to a water tower located above the mill.

A look at the skeleton of the old mill.

Water tower.


Remnants of the water wheel.

Inside the pump room.




Parts of the mill site are fenced off, including the concrete pad that made up much of the factory. My understanding is that volunteers are still working on restoring parts of the mill site.



Views of the mill buildings from the interpretive trail around the perimeter of the mill site.



There was a small factory town surrounding the Bondsville Mill. On the other side of Bondsville Road, you can find the general store and buildings for worker's housing.

One last shot of Bondsville Mill with a bridge over the Beaver Creek.


How to Get There:



Sources and Links:
MillPictures.com - Bondsville Woolen & Cotton Mill
East Brandywine Township - Bondsville Mill Park Committee
Historic Bondsville Mill Park & Gardens - About Bondsville Mill Park
Vista.Today - East Brandywine’s Bondsville Mill Park Provides Visitors Historical, Natural Experience

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