This historic house that sits on the border of Newburgh and Marlboro was built circa 1717 by Luis Moses Gomez. Gomez was a Sephardic Jew and son of a Spanish nobleman who became a successful merchant and trader in New York City before purchasing 1,200 acres in today’s Orange and Ulster County. At the convergence of several Indian trails and beside a stream that would come to be called “Jew’s Creek,” Gomez built this house as a trading post. Initially a one-story blockhouse with thick stone walls, the house would be transformed after Revolutionary War Patriot and businessman, Wolfert Acker bought the property in 1772.
Ackert added the second story of finely crafted bricks which are rumored to have been made on-site by Ackert’s slaves. During Ackert’s ownership, the house would see a number of architectural details added including a Dutch-inspired heart in diamond brick pattern on the east wall, second-story Palladian window centered in a five-bay facade that gave the home a distinctly English Georgian quality.
The house was next acquired by the Armstrong family, whose tenure is remembered by their addition of a kitchen wing. By the twentieth century, the Mill House would eventually find itself being purchased by Dard Hunter. Hunter was a prominent figure in the early Arts and Crafts movement who bought the house in 1912 with the intention of rebuilding its mill in order to make paper. Inspired by English art and architecture, Hunter built the mill to resemble a Devonshire cottage. Details he added include English cottage-style windows with diamond-shaped panes set in lead, half-timbered walls with brick infill, a roof thatched with locally harvested straw, and an 8-foot wooden waterwheel that was fabricated by local millwright, Joseph Kniffen. Dard Hunter’s mill has made the property one of the most picturesque properties in the region. The mill produced paper as part of Hunter’s remarkable feat in creating books almost entirely by himself.
At the Mill House, Hunter historically performed all of the tasks of creating a book minus the binding, but he would find the creek’s water flow insufficient for his needs and also felt the house was too small and difficult to heat for his growing family, so in 1918, the house was sold to Martha Gruening. Gruening, a Smith College graduate was a social activist for the NAACP and women’s suffrage who for a short time, used the house as a libertarian school.