Walker's Mill and Bank Houses
Walker's Mill on the Brandwine is 3 miles from the center of Wilmington, DE. It was built in 1813-1816 as a cotton mill, along with 4 "bank houses" to house workers and their families. The buildings stretched along the water across the river from Henry Clay Village also known as Rising Sun. The Walker's Mill area had both an industrial and residential character throughout the 1800's. Adjacent to it downstream was the Dupont Co. "lower yard" gunpowder works. Adjacent upstream (near the modern Tyler-McConnell bridge) was a Dupont keg factory. Main Street in Henry Clay Village was accessible after a bridge was built in 1833. Ajacent to Henry Clay (across from Walkers Mill and slightly upstream) was the main Hagley yard and surrounding Squirrel Run worker housing.
The mill is possibly the most photographed building in Delaware.
- Map c1900 (keyed to pictures of the buildings)
- National Register of Historic Places nomination (1971)
- Family units in 1871 identified from rent receipt records. For example, Sarah Collins $9/3 months in unit 1, front half of 2nd block from Lower Yard (identified as building 3 on the map above)
- Census record from 1870 showing Sarah and her neighbors, her family, their education (neither could read or write), birthplace (Ireland), and occupation. Most of the residents of Sarah's and adjacent building and worked in the cotton mill or nearby keg factory, were 'at home' or 'at school', and were born in Delaware or Ireland.
- The Hagley Office Repair Book of 1902 allows an idea of building appearances
- Topographic maps: North Wilmington, Walker's Mill area
- Map from Feasibility Study Plan (2001)
- Aerial photos: color digital IR '92, B&W '97 from U of D. Spatlab; GIS
- Detailed topographic map of mill area with buildings (from 1934-1950?)
- Other maps:
Rental Unit Map cross referenced to DuPont Co. Repair Book
Brandywine map (date=?, pre-Victorian)
1863 Beer's Atlas (11 dwellings + mill)
- Brief History
Perspectives of P. S. duPont de Nemours on the financial turmoil in the U.S. in 1816 and 1817 that caused the mill to fail soon after its completion
Brandywine Manufacturers Sunday School (1816)
- Hexamer Survey -1889- Mill description, contents, space allocation, fire protection, employees ("57 hands,--10 men, 17 boys, balance females")
- Floor plans of Mill and Bank House. Note that the current mill building is much larger (224' x 45') than that mentioned (65' by 45' in 1826) in the research report by Roy Boatman. The c1826 sketch by E.I. duPont would suggest that it's the downstream portion.
- Children of worker's families attended a "sunday school" to learn the three R's. This school, the Brandywine Manufacturer's Sunday School may be the first public school in Delaware. It began upstairs in the mill building in 1816. Attendance records for boys is available for 1817. Twenty boys are listed from the Walker's Mill area (then called Simsville); many more from Louviers, Hagley, Henry Clay etc. It was originally funded by manufacturer's and community donations. Later, workers were 'urged' by employers to donate: $0.50/year for married men, $0.25/year for single men, payable in September!
- The mill originally used a "tub" water wheel (though the Fairlamb map shows two wheels). In 1859, a Jonval Turbine was installed. A working wet model of such a turbine is on view at the Fairmont Water Works in Philadelphia. Two long shafts, turning at "190 rpm" ran the length of the building providing power to 2-3,000 spindles, dozens of looms, "blowing machines, carding engines, drawing frames, roving frames, stretching frames, throstles, mules, press, turning lathes, &c. &c."
- PHOTO gallery
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