Daniel Morgan, one of the most talented and successful of America's generals during the Revolutionary War, joined forces with transplanted Tidewater patrician Nathaniel Burwell to form a business partnership in the early 1780s. Morgan, placed in command of Hessian prisoners of war from the Battle of Saratoga who were being held in Winchester, used those captives to build a grist mill in Frederick County in the area that would become the village of Millwood in Clarke County. The two men operated the venture successfully for a number of years and the mill became a center of commerce in the region.
In 1964, the Clarke County Historical Association acquired the mill, by then having fallen into terrible disrepair, along with six acres surrounding the building. Extensive efforts lead to a restoration of the working mill, which was not only designated a Virginia Historic Landmark, but also gained a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The Association then, in 1970, sought the help of The Garden Club of Virginia to restore the grounds as well, in anticipation of making the site an important destination for visitors. A representative of the Association observed that the restoration offered The Garden Club a unique opportunity, since the mill was being interpreted in the context of environmental awareness of the need for clean water and as a tool to educate young and old about the simple means of generating power in the eighteenth century.
The Club willingly took up the call and engaged Ralph Griswold to design and oversee yet another restoration project. The landscape architect focused on controlled natural growth and on allowing plantings to merge with paths, bridges, and watercourses in simple and visually pleasing ways. The use of red and sugar maple, yellow birch, and eastern redbud trees, shrubs such as silky dogwood, winterberry, and mountain laurel, and vines such as trumpet creeper, along with a broad variety of other vegetation, produced a landscape that not only accentuated the handsomely restored mill, but also suggested the unspoiled natural beauty of an earlier place and time.
Note: The images presented here record various stages of the property's landscape restoration. Since additional work has been supported by The Garden Club of Virginia at many properties, these images do not necessarily represent the current-day experience. Also, accession numbers reflect the year in which an image was received by the Virginia Historical Society, not the year in which it was taken.
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View from the west toward the mill building after restoration.
Slide, Burwell-Morgan Mill. Museum Collection Accession number: 1997.31.20.A