Clinton and the Red Mill

The Best May Be Yet To Come

By Andy Drysdale

Perhaps no symbol of western New Jersey is better known than the landmark Red Mill at Clinton. Located just below the confluence of Spruce Run and the South Branch of the Raritan, on the west end of Main Street, the mill and its surroundings have played host to a succession of industries and activities spawned by the region's remarkably rich agriculture.

The Red Mill in spring. Photo by Dan Bacon.

The Red Mill was built about 1812 to process wool. In its early days it was not nearly so large, nor was it likely painted red. All through the next one hundred years the structure would be expanded and altered to accommodate different endeavors; the enterprises included grist milling, plaster and talc grinding, graphite processing and peach-basket production. In the 1830s a large stone mill would be constructed across the river on the east bank; the proprietors here stuck to grinding grain; and the two mills stood and stand yet as eloquent testimony to a once keen harmony between man's needs and Nature's possibilities.

The men who envisioned the power of their lives harnessed for industry were not unusual for the nineteenth century. The countryside was dotted with all manner of waterpowered operations. Those who added to the Red Mill did not seek to create a landmark, but simply to follow the changing economics of the times. The carpenters who added the unique roofline extension did so only to accommodate some machinery in 1908; they could little imagine how this added bit of character would inspire artists, photographers, historians and civic leaders though the century.

In 1960 five visionary businessmen, just old enough to remember the days of mills, horses and such, purchased the distinctive structure, gave it a new coat of red paint, and started the Clinton Historical Museum; in a few years the Mulligan limestone quarry to the rear of the mill was added to the property along with the old quarry buildings; a mid-nineteenth century dwelling for workers, a stone shed converted to a blacksmith shop, and the quarry office along with several structures key to the industry; a massive lime kiln, and imposing lime-screening building, a shed for dynamite storage, and a one-man worker's shack. In the 1970s a one-room school house from Alexandria Township was moved to the site, as well as two long wagon sheds from local churches. A log cabin, representative of the birthplace of Hunterdon County's Revolutionary War hero General Daniel Morgan, was constructed in 1976. An administration building was also added alongside the mill.

Today the site is known as The Red Mill Museum Village. A wide variety of special programs are offered for schools and the general public. The Red Mill Shop, located on the first floor of the widely-recognized and beloved old mill, features a variety of gifts and historical reproductions. The upper floors are devoted to Hunterdon County history. Numerous items from the Museum's 40,000 piece collection are on display.

In 1952 a group composed of artists and community leaders acquired the stone gristmill for use as a nonprofit cultural center. The building was extensively rehabilitated and now is the home of the Hunterdon Museum of Art. Exhibitions feature local, national and international artists. The galleries are open Wednesday - Sunday, 11am - 5pm. The Museum charges an admission fee.

The museum sites are connected by a picturesque iron bridge constructed in 1870. The bridge contains walking paths that are kept separate from the traffic by heavy wrought iron rails. Even though this bridge is part of Main Street, serious trout fishermen are often glimpsed angling from the bridges walking paths. Just beyond the west end of the bridge is the Clinton House; a surviving nineteenth-century establishment renowned for its fine food. At the east end of the bridge-- just beyond the Art Center- is the old downtown business district. Unlike many communities, Clinton has not only preserved its Victorian atmosphere, but enhanced it with an unmistakable elegance that is neither heavy-handed nor exclusionary; the town still maintains a rural, even casual air that visitors seem to find refreshing. While many of Clinton's establishments cater to a more sophisticated audience than the Victorians, the storefronts and signs proudly maintain a traditional character, clearly reflecting the local merchants' pride in being part of a very special place.

The people who built the buildings by the river could not have foreseen all this of course. Some have suggested that they might be disappointed to find their architecture utilized so differently. I think it unlikely. Museum, history, art, good places to eat, antique shops and the like? The people who make up the town seem to understand that preservation is not simply the safeguarding of old things for old thing's sake, but rather for the vitality that quality from the past can add to contemporary life. The synthesis of old and new works well here. The friendly faces on Clinton's Main Street speak volumes.

Nearby accommodations and attractions

  • Decoys and Wildlife Gallery
  • This wildlife art gallery contains the area?s largest selection of hand carved decoys, representing carvers across the US, as well as an extensive collection of original paintings by some of the nation's most renowned artists.

    55 Bridge St., Frenchtown 08825, 908/996-6501

  • Made To Order
  • Delightful fantasies beyond words! Gold, Platinum & Silver Jewelry, Wildlife Photos, Crystal, Lighthouses. Perfume Bottles, Santas, Witches Balls, Oil Lamps, Paperweights, Chimes, Art Glass, Wishing Stars. Now featuring Pandora Jewelry.

    44 Main St., Clinton 08809, 908/735-4244

  • Ship Inn Restaurant and Brewery
  • New Jersey''s first brewpub where, in addition to14 British ales and hard cider on tap, you can enjoy selections brewed on-site. The menu is derived exclusively from cuisine from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Lively weekend entertainment, on and off premise catering.

    61 Bridge St., Milford 08848, 908/995-7007

  • Bobolink Dairy and Bakehouse
  • Artisanal cheeses, wood fired breads, 100% grass-fed beef, whey fed pork, and suckled veal, 100% grass-fed ice cream, pasta made with Emmer wheat and our own free-range eggs, and pesto made with our own basil! Bread and cheesemaking workshops are held on the working farm as well as weekend tours and occasional concerts.

    369 Stamets Road, Milford 08848, 908/86GRASS

  • Historic Hunterdon Taverns


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Chuck Gullage
26 Feb 2015, 16:26
I am a Trustee Emeritus with the Musconetcong Watershed Association and I am in charge of restoring the Asbury Mill in the Village of Asbury in Franklin Township, Warren County. I'd like to talk to someone who was involved in the restoration of the Red Mill. Also, I'm interested in learning more about the graphite milling period of the Red Mill.
Ted E Mueller
30 Jan 2015, 17:40
I see so many favorable comments about the Clinton Red Mill. I had a most enjoyable opportunity painting this cherished old mill. It's history is fantastic. I was glad to see so many people commented after seeing my paintings of the mill. YES - the two paintings I made of it are now possessions of RUSS, who resides in Washington.
Each time I see some reference to the mill, I am inspired to paint another view. I have sketches of a view from upstream. Now just waiting for the inspiration and opportunity to paint that view on another canvas.
08 Oct 2011, 06:42
I toured Ted E. Mueller's Australia WEB site of his paintings. Such realism. I had a vacation tour right from my comfortable chair in front of my computer.\r\nTed researches before he paints; What inspitration, such atmosphere.\r\nAnd speaking of a bygone era, he lives in Addison, researched history of their "Heidemann Mill", and then painted such a beautiful scene.\r\n\r\nAnd now that painting is in Addison's museum of their history. What a generous contribution!
17 Sep 2011, 15:00
What a fascinating story about the evolution of the Red Mill and adjoining buildings.\r\n\r\nIt is wonderful how we can reach out to each other through the recent phenomenon of cyber space. I would never have 'met' Ted, the artist who has inspired so many of you, otherwise.\r\n\r\nBuilding my Art in Tropical Australia website is a particular joy when it brings contact with artists from all over the world, although it is mostly about art from this 'far flung' region.\r\n\r\nIn his paintings Ted manages to instil the atmosphere of a bygone era and a place so different to the Australian tropics. In 1812 Far North Queensland was inhabited only by the indigenous Aborigines and there were no roads or buildings for, you see, it had not been 'discovered'!\r\n\r\nShould Ted be interested in making prints of his paintings, as some of you suggest, the giclee process may be the way to go, although it is not cheap. Here's an explanation if you haven't heard of it - .\r\n\r\nVery good wishes to all involved with Clinton, its museum and artistic activities, especially to Ted for his continued recording of such fascinating aspects of history.\r\n\r\nNB Alice's address for the site won't work as one needs a . not a , (cyber space is very particular!).\r\n\r\nThis works - (just copy and paste).\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n
Dan Z.
17 Sep 2011, 07:10
I went to that Australian address site and was amazed at the artist Ted E. Mueller's two paintings of the Clinton Mill.\r\n\r\nResearching or detective work on my part revealed that he resides in some place identified as Addison, IL.\r\n\r\nHis work is stunning to look at. So realistic almost as a photograph. His profession was/is an architect, so it shows in his beautiful paintings. And he attributes his gift to our creator. His humble attitude is projected through his writings.
Harry Fee
17 Sep 2011, 05:59
I grew up in Clinton and I remember the "Old Mill". My friends and I "played" in it before it restored. We used to fish off the dam.\r\n
Ted E. Mueller
13 Aug 2011, 18:59
Received notice of comments on the Clinton Red Mill. Such a beautiful place.\r\n\r\nI have made two paintings of this beautiful piece of history and enjoyed every moment creating them.\r\n\r\nOne can see both paintings and a few other paintings at a WEB site of a dear friend of mine. Go to:\r\n\r\\r\n\r\nand enjoy the tour through the visit.
13 Aug 2011, 18:14
I have checked out this australia address. Wonderful paintings by the TED artist.\r\n\r\nRuss said Ted did not see the actual mill, but his work is so architeturally correct. And the trees, I revel with his style.\r\n\r\nPass this complement on to him, please.
06 Feb 2011, 14:09
one can do only so much with 20inches of snow outside I'm from notheast missouri. so I looked through my puzzles.I chose to put this one together and I stoped and read the name one the puzzle box and I thought I wounder what took place there/. so I looked you up .what a beautiful place .I just love looking at this place it draws you in I can't explain it better then that.
Jean Villa
23 Nov 2010, 09:39
Love your paintings Ted Mueller! Especially the "Villa".\r\nJean Villa\r\nReal Estate Agent\r\nWeichert Realtors\r\nHunterdon & Warren Counties\r\n908-319-9556
Betty Jane
30 Oct 2010, 17:06
Why the problem with the name. It is "The Clinton Red Mill".\r\n\r\nRUSS has an original painting of it made by someone named Ted.\r\n\r\nHow can one get a copy of the mill painting?
Sally B
24 Oct 2010, 11:38
I love the red mill that some just call Clinton Mill. I guess this is beacuse it is in linton. Cannot think of any other reason to call it. But I see it is a red mill.\r\n\r\nSuggestion: Why not call it Clintin Red Mill?\r\n\r\nSeee I solved it for everyone.\r\n\r\nAnd those paintings of Ted E. Mueller are awsome. Where does he live? These works of his should be displayed. I noted that Brad Pitt has one though.\r\nLucky Guy, but he is rich.
Sherry & Bill
20 Oct 2010, 08:45
I have spent an entire evening looking at the paintings of Ted E. Mueller and his fantastic way of capturing a scene on a canvas. His style is awsome.\r\n\r\nBut reading the comments of others that have looked at his paintings was the joy of my visit. He has a wonderful following of his paintings. The comment of 'Ted's love of art and his love of old wooden buildings, real America, as in covered bridges and mills and lighthouses' is a real tribute to an at home artist.\r\n\r\nAnd this man 'RUSS' that owns several of Ted's paintings. We envy him. I would suggest that the mill museum contact either Russ or Ted and offer to sell copies of his paintings as turist souveniers. I imagine his work is copywrited.
16 Oct 2010, 09:19
Thanks Alice for the address URL corretion to see paintings of theRed Mill by this artist.\r\n\r\nI will check him out and report back her after I look at the paintings.
16 Oct 2010, 09:10
Correction to "RUSS" address to see paintings of th Red Mill.\r\n\r\naddress should read:\r\n\r\,html\r\n\r\ns orry it is such a long address, but australia is way down under. Long way to go so long address I guess.\r\n\r\nTed Mueller seems to be an excellent artist and Russ has purchased two of his paintings. Some people have all the luck!
13 Oct 2010, 15:42
Above, "awesome ((not me of course)" asks who owns this painting...well, I do! Thank you Dad! I have both of his paintings of the Red Mill, which is located near my place of work, created from several pics taken by a professional photographer friend of mine, and I guess, Dad's own research. His art demonstrates his love of the old wooden buildings, real Americana, such as covered bridges and mills and lighthouses. I guess that is in his blood from his youth camping at Turkey Run in Indiana where there is a beautiful old covered bridge, near where he and my Aunt and Uncle went swimming as pre-teens when my grandparents took them camping.\r\n\r\nWhenever I see that rendition of the Clinton Mill on the street sign at Route 173 and Main Street, I feel more proud to own these pieces of art.\r\nThe link above doesn't seem to work for me, but you can view these at:\r\n ntings-impress.html#Clinton Mill\r\n\r\nNow I regret that I didn't take my folks to visit the Mill when they visited a here few years ago. Sometimes, it takes a while for kids for fully appreciate our parents, their knowledge, their skills, their enduring suffering of us kids! Thanks, Dad!
awsome (not me of course)
13 Oct 2010, 11:17
This mill is beautiful. Wonderful tourist attraction which I love.\r\n\r\nThe painting by artist Ted Mueller shoule be shown at the mill. He has captured te read feeling of the site. Can you contact him with this suggestion? That painting of his is fantastic as was commented by "admirer".\r\n\r\nWho now owns this painting?
13 Oct 2010, 10:57
I looked at the painting by Ted E. at his address of:\r\\r\n\r\nThat man is fantastic with his paintings, and his portrail of the \r\n"RED MILL" is awsome. He is a master of painting and is to be commended for his talent and the superb portrail he has so meticulously painted.\r\n\r\nPlease convey my comment to him.
12 Oct 2010, 07:25
could you please let me know when the next time you will be having readings by irene
Ted E.
22 Jul 2010, 13:46
I made 2 paintings of this fantastic tourist attraction. see them at:\r\n\r\n(GO TO:)\r\ mill.html
Kevin Fitz-Maurice
03 Apr 2010, 20:30
My name is Kevin I am the Founder of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Paranormal Society. I would like to come to the Red Mill Inn and do a paranormal investigation. Could you please get back to me and let me know if you allow paranormal teams to come to the Inn and do investigations thankyou and hope to here from you soon.\r\n\r\nKevin\r\nFounder\r\
Gerri Lutkiewicz
25 Nov 2009, 05:33
Clinton is a cute little town, but I remember visiting the Red Mill when it demonstrated the workings of the mill. That was so interesting to see and learn. Needless to say, when I came with my children, was very disappointed to find this knowledge no longer there. When asked what was done with all the antiques, I was told they were being stored in the upper part of the Mill. Also found some of the store owners with their noses up in the air. Haven't been back for a very long time.
Elizabeth Haines
24 Jul 2009, 16:19
Good afternoon,\r\n\r\nMy soon to be 14 year old son has been taking blacksmithing classes this summer at Camp Falling Creek in Tuxedo, North Carolina. He was a man obsessed with it and earned his "apprenticeship", he is only the 23rd in the history of the camp. I am inquiring whether or not the Mill is in need of an apprentice on the weekends. He would be happy to volunteer.\r\n\r\nKindest regards,\r\nElizabeth Haines\r\nPennington, NJ
Jack Cox
03 Nov 2008, 21:10
I went to High School 44-48. I am looking for art or prints of the Clinton area.
12 Jun 2008, 16:44
After seeing the show Ghost Hunters we are so there... not just because it may be haunted but it is such a cool looking place... I do think I was there at some point as a child... We will see you soon..
12 Jun 2008, 08:46
I saw your mill on TV Ghost Hunters I don't care if it's haunted or not, I just appreciate that you maintain a mill with such history. I will stop on my next trip to Dutch Springs in Betheham for a look.\r\nThank you, have a good day,\r\nRick
David and Brenda Nelson
11 Jun 2008, 18:29
Hello, We are watching the Ghost Hunters show and decided to google you. We visited Clinton about 10 years ago. Beautiful town. We are coming back. David and Brenda. Matawan N.J
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