Marlborough Area Preservation Society, Inc. (MAPS) grew out of general interest shown by a small group of people curious about the stone mill building and sawmill annex we today call Wetzel’s Mill. The mill sits on the banks of the Unami Creek at the corner of (Powder) Magazine and Swamp Creek Roads, on the outskirts of Sumneytown, PA – a country village in Marlborough Township within northwestern Montgomery County.
An initial question was whether the stone mill structure was solid enough to preserve, and secondly, whether it was really worth saving. Upon learning details about ownership of the mill-site spanning three centuries, we are convinced the story of the changing uses of the mill and environs over time must be told. We realized there was not only a solid building worth restoring, but also a compelling story to share more widely. As a result, a non-profit corporation was formed whose purpose is to trumpet the tale of the mill building and site, and the larger 250 year saga of the Unami Creek, (once called Swamp Creek), its pioneering water powered enterprises, the life of its workers, and its roles in the wider region.
Marlborough Area Preservation Society (MAPS) non-profit corporation board members include:
Greg Chaples – risk management executive with a large insurance agency
Stefan Laessig – former automotive executive & moto sport business owner / racing instructor
Brian McNeill – former advertising photographer / business owner
John B. Haines, IV – founder of the H&K Group
'Mick' Hasson – former computer hardware electrical engineer
Dmitri Bohn – materials science developer
One can reasonably speculate Wetzel’s Mill stands today because it was not directly involved in what was likely the highly lucrative business of the Unami Creek – black powder manufacturing over the period 1780 through 1899. It was, however, connected indirectly to the production of black powder through its owners, and by a mill race it shared with an adjacent black powder mill. Wetzel’s Mill served the wider community mainly through oil merchant milling of linseed oil, grist (grain) milling and saw milling, thereby contributing to a degree of prosperity in this area for workers and owners alike, plus the many teamsters hauling wagon loads of mill products far and wide. We have also learned that black powder manufacturing, while reported to be quite profitable, and important to the entire nation, took a heavy toll on mill hands. They deserve to be acknowledged, which we intend to do.
Our goal is to initially stabilize and preserve Wetzel’s Mill, then repair or replace structures which have been compromised over time so its appearance can be restored to what we know it looked like in the early twentieth century. We can then begin the process of opening the building and grounds to inform our neighbors and visitors from afar about the largely untold account of the people who made Sumneytown such an important economic focal point.