Savage Mill Tower, December 2008
|Location||SW corner of Foundry Rd. and Washington St., Savage, Maryland|
|Architectural style||No Style Listed|
|NRHP Reference #||
|Added to NRHP||April 18, 1974|
The Savage Mill is a historic cotton mill complex in Savage, Maryland, which has been turned into a complex of shops and restaurants. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. It is located in the Savage Mill Historic District. Buildings in the complex date from 1822 to 1916.
The cotton mill
Commodore Joshua Barney had a colorful career as a sailor, merchant and privateer ranging from Philadelphia harbor to Jamacia. He acquired the land we know as Savage when it was still part of Anne Arundel county, referencing it in letters as being at "Elkridge" (The name the nearest port at Elkridge Landing). In 1809, Nathaniel F. Williams (1782-1864) married Caroline Barney, daughter of Joshua Barney, who lived at the Commodore Joshua Barney House built in 1760. The mill was started next to the Barney house in 1810 by brothers Nathanael F. Williams, Amos Adams Williams (1776-), Cumberland Dugan Williams (1781-) and George Williams (1778-). Shortly after starting the enterprise, Joshua Barney and Nathaniel Williams participated in the war of 1812, with Nathanial becoming wounded at the Battle of North Point and Barney wounded at the Battle of Bladensburg. The mill and town were named after Kingston, Jamaican born John Savage II(1790-1831), of the Philadelphia shipping firm Savage & Dugan. Savage financed the Williams brothers the money to start the business and bought the mill outright in 1823 for $6,667.67. James E. P. Boulden In 1821 the mill was chartered as the Savage Manufacturing Company. The main product was cotton duck, used for sailcloth and a wide variety of other uses. By 1829 Amos Williams combined "Whites Contrivance", "Brothers In Partnership", and "Williams Discovery" to expand the mill town to 980 acres. The parcel was named "Conclusion", which was joined with Charles Alexander Warfield's "Wincopin Neck" upstream to form a dam on the Little Patuxent River, which runs adjacent to the mill property. In 1880, steam engines were installed. The mill had a good source of water power, but the river was unnavigable for delivery. Horses and mules were used to deliver the product to market. In March 1835 the Savage Railroad Company was incorporated by Amos and Cumberland Williams and other investors with $15,000 in stock to bring a rail spur to the mill off the Patuxent branch of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, and in the 1870s a Bollman Truss Bridge was moved to the spur. This bridge survives and is the only one of its kind left. 
The oldest remaining mill structure is the stone carding and spinning building, probably built between 1816 and 1823. The mill was expanded by the Baldwins before 1881, and that expansion included the brick tower with Romanesque overtones. Other buildings include the weaving shed, preparation area, paymaster's office, and several early-20th century warehouses and power plants.
In 1859, William Henry Baldwin Jr. (1821- ) of the Talbot Jones Co. (Woodward Baldwin & Co.) took over operations as the Savage Manufacturing Company, purchasing the land and factory for $42,000. From 1861 to 1862 the mill closed due to lack of raw cotton from the Southern states during the civil war. The mill was managed by William Henry's son Carroll Baldwin from 1905 to 1918 merging with the New York-based Baldwin, Leslie and Company. In 1918 the company was renamed Leslie Evans and Company after Baldwin's death.
Workers from the factory worked 6 days a week in 10 hours shifts and were issued company script in various denominations that were usable in the only store in the village on Commerce street that was also owned by the company.
Throughout World War II the mill produced heavy duck for canvas, hoses, refining and sails and community power from the waterwheel. The demand for canvas dropped considerably after the war, and the mill was scheduled to be shut down 1 January 1948. At time the 400 acre complex employed 372, consisted of twelve industrial buildings and 98 houses owned and rented by the mill.
The Christmas village
After the mill closed it was bought by Harry Heim fro $450,000 who converted it into Santa Novelties, manufacturing Christmas ornaments, featuring a Christmas Display Village named "Santa Heim" which opened in December 1948. It featured live reindeer, a one ring circus, and a miniature train which carried guests to the mill from a parking lot on U.S. Route 1. A turreted castle was built at the corner of route one and Gorman road. The Carol Baldwin Hall was used for sales of Christmas products. Several picket fenced homes along the tree-lined Baltimore Avenue were demolished for the operation.
Production included 65 million Christmas tree globes produced onsite with 400 workers.
This business was relatively short lived. Efforts to rename the town to Santa Heim did not go through, as did the plan for a hotel and artificial lake with a waterfall. In 1950 the mill was purchased by Albert Winer and his brothers Samuel, Hyman, and Ephraim who used for warehousing by the National Store Fixture Company.
In 1975, Winer unsuccessfully attempted to rezone the mill property from industrial to business while starting a restoration attempt. The initial restoration was completed by September 1981. In 1985 Albert Winer's son Jay Winer founded Savage Limited Partnership and reopened the mill as a collection of restaurants, specialty shops, and antique dealers. In 1991, The State of Maryland and Howard County loaned Savage Mill Limited Partnership $900,000. The partnership declared bankruptcy in 1994. This has been expanded over the years to encompass five of the larger buildings in the complex. In 2010, tourism numbers for the mill surpassed one million. Plans for the future include renovation of the boiler and wheel buildings in order to allow visitors to view some of the mill machinery. Limited changes were made to the fabric of the buildings, and the original timbers and iron fittings can be seen throughout.
In 2013, the Howard County Department of Planning and Zoning issued a comprehensive zoning update that included zoning changes to allow density increases for the "Savage remainder" property. The five acre plateau of woodland with steep drops to the Patuxent on two sides that was not purchased by the county as part of Savage Park. Buzzutto homes proposed a housing project called the Settlement at Savage Mills which included significant grading changes and donations of land by the parks department to the developer to maximize density which was opposed by a referendum attempt. The 7000-person referendum attempt was suppressed by the landowners' attorney, William Erskine, who sits on the economic development agency as well as the same law firm as County Executive Ken Ulman's father.
- "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15.
- Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication, Issue 259; Issue 265: 39.
- Thomas Williams. American Brave: Story of Admiral Joshua Barney. p. XVII.
- Ralph E. Eshelman, Scott S. Sheads. Chesapeake Legends and Lore from the War of 1812. p. 93.
- Stephen West Williams. The Genealogy and History of the Family of Williams in America. p. 297.
- "Nathanial Williams". Retrieved 4 September 2014.
- "Of Wealthy Men". Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- "Catalogue of the memorial exhibition of 3 1924". Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- United States Congressional Serial Set. p. 215.
- The Presbyterians of Baltimore: Their Churches and Historic Grave-yards. 1875. p. 106.
- Barbra Feaga. Howard's Roads to Past. p. 68.
- "Savage Mill Historic District". Maryland Historical Trust. Retrieved 2008-10-29.
- Barbara W. Feaga. Howard's Roads to the Past. p. 67.
- Howard County Historical Society. Images of America Howard County. p. 70.
- "Nation's Oldest Cotton Mill to Shut Down". The Washington Post. 3 December 1947.
- Howard County Historical Society. Images of America Howard County. p. 112.
- Howard County Historical Society. Images of America Howard County. p. 46.
- "Savage Hums with Activity". The Washington Post. 28 November 1948.
- The Howard County Historical Society. Howard County. p. 112.
- "Howard County Mill-to-Mall Developers Ask for Break on Loan". The Washington Post. 20 November 1997.
- Carolyn M. Proctor (29 July 2011). "Top of the List: Baltimore-area tourist attractions". The Baltimore Business Journal.
- Amanda Yeager (12 March 2014). "Savage community proposes option for development concerns". The Baltimore Sun.
- Amanda Yeager (21 August 2014). "Howard petitioners take referendum issue to legislators". The Baltimore Sun.
- "Howard County Zoning Referendum Struck Down by Special Appeals Court". Retrieved August 23, 2014.
- Savage Mill Historic District, Howard County, Inventory No.: HO-42, including photo in 2003, at Maryland Historical Trust website
- Savage Mill website: History
- Historical Savage Mill from Baltimore Stories