In 2003, developer O’Neill Properties Group bought a two-building property at 1400 Mills Road called Barker Mill. Their intention was to transform the site into luxury condos, while planning a third building to complete the set. Sadly, as tends to be the case in renovation and revitalization projects, things did not going according to plan.
Cheryl Allison at the Main Line Times reports the development went up for auction in 2012 after a suffering economy and condo market hampered plans. The site, which is included in the the National Register of Historic Places Mill Creek Historic District, has been vacant for years and is now the second item on the Lower Merion Conservancy’s 2014 Preservation WatchList.
According to the Conservancy’s website, the mill served as a gun manufactory between 1807 and 1865, and made rifles used in the War of 1812. It later switched to producing carpet yarn after coming under the ownership of William Booth and Thomas Barker, a fact which Rutgers University professor Richard Demirjian cites as an example of the country’s early struggles toward “greater economic independence.”
As of now, Barker Mill has the third construction plan scrapped from the table, but is still waiting for a buyer.
(Fun fact: It had a stint as music studio for R&B group Boyz II Men in the early 2000s.)
• A rare glimpse inside Gladwyne’s historic but threatened Barker Mill [Main Line Times]
Meanwhile, in news elsewhere…
• Real estate firms investing millions on east end of Center City [Philadelphia Business Journal]
• End Of The Road For Atonement (UPDATED) [Hidden City]
• Center City retail scene on fire [Philadelphia Business Journal]