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Nicodemus Mill

December 03, 1998

This is the 110th in a series of articles about the historic and architectural treasures of Washington County




Matson houseBy PAT SCHOOLEY

photos: KEVIN G. GLBERT / staff photographer




Dog Creek flows just north of the juncture of Nicodemus Mill and Dogstreet roads, a small run in a fertile valley. On the east side of the road, a small stone cottage with a double porch looks north across the stream toward the collapsing foundations of Nicodemus Mill, barely visible amid vegetation.

A large sycamore grows majestically from the middle of what was once the mill. Well back the lane that runs beside the ruins of the mill, a stone house with a brick wing sits among large trees and a collection of accessory buildings, all part of the mill complex.

[cont. from lifestyle]

In 1803, Valentine Nicodemus purchased 175.5 acres from his brother Conrad for 800 pounds, part of land patented as Piles Grove. In 1810, Valentine built the elegant stone house for his family. It faces south, built into the hill that drops to Dog Creek, with its basement opening at ground level on that side. Once, this facade had porches on all three levels, with the main entrance in the middle of the five bays on the middle porch.

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The walls are roughly coursed native limestone with no decorative masonry above the openings. There are datestones high on each gable wall. The eastern one, a simple circle surrounded by headers, says 1810, while the western stone, a tablet with an arched top of header bricks, reads 18H10. The meaning of the H is not known.

BedroomThe basement level has two rooms with a large service fireplace on the east side. The massive wooden lintel has been burned through, and the fireplace no longer can be used. The main entrance, a six-panel door sheathed with vertical boards on the inside, opens into a center hall with a single large living room on the east. An interior chimney serves the living room fireplace. The mantel is decorated with deeply carved fans radiating from the corners and similar carved borders. A central frame seems to have had some sort of a hinged cover; it holds a mirror. The area to the west of the hall at one time had two rooms, a larger room with a fireplace at the front of the house and a small room at its rear.

Simple stairs with slender, square balusters rise to a landing with a window, then reverse direction and continue to the second floor. There are two smaller rooms on the west, one with a fireplace. The east room is dominated by an unusual double mantel with a single fireplace on the left and a closed area on the right. This mantelpiece is elaborately carved with cartouches and fans.

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