Greenbank’s Hollow

A For­got­ten VillageThe five-story woolen mill in Greenbank's Hollow

Joes’ Brook, for­merly named Merritt’s River, flows east­erly through Danville and pow­ered mills and fac­to­ries in the ham­lets of Palmer Mill Vil­lage (West Danville), Harvey’s Hol­low, South Danville and Morse’s Mills. Report­edly, the brook pro­vided power for 39 enter­prises from its source to its junc­tion with the Pas­sump­sic River.

The largest man­u­fac­tur­ing com­plex in Danville was on Joe’s Brook. Over many decades, a series of mills oper­ated here to pro­duce lum­ber, flour or woolen cloth. Greenbank’s Hol­low or Vil­lage (South Danville) was ear­lier known, suc­ces­sively, as Whitcher Mills, Davis Mills, and Bolton Mills—named for the own­ers of the mills that pro­vided lum­ber, flour or cloth.

In 1849, Ben­jamin Green­bank pur­chased the exist­ing Bolton woolen mill and over the years con­verted it into a five-story woolen fac­tory. Greenbank’s mill was the largest in the region and in the 1850’s employed 45 peo­ple and pro­duced 700 yards of cloth daily. The mill sup­ported 25 fam­i­lies and scores of sheep farm­ers. Cale­do­nia County was sheep coun­try, and in 1840 there were nearly 15,000 sheep in Danville.

Greenbank’s Hol­low (or some­times Greenbank’s Vil­lage), also had a post office, store, grist­mill, sawmill, school, and sev­eral res­i­dences. Greenbank’s Hol­low was truly a “com­pany” vil­lage as most of the enter­prises and build­ings were owned by Green­bank.
On Decem­ber 14, 1885, a fire that began in the woolen mill quickly dev­as­tated the ham­let, destroy­ing the woolen mill, store, sev­eral res­i­dences and the cov­ered bridge. Green­bank did not rebuild. Instead, he decided to move his enter­prise to Enfield, NH, where pur­port­edly a rail­road spur line would be pro­vided to enhance the effi­ciency of his mill.

Within three years after the fire, many Greenbank’s Hol­low res­i­dents had moved away.The grist­mill con­tin­ued oper­a­tion, and the store was rebuilt and oper­ated for sev­eral years. The school closed its doors in June, 1912.

There were just enough sheep in Danville and sur­rounds to sup­port the local mills at the time of the fire. Indeed, the wool mar­kets in the coun­try had been in steady decline since the repeal of the tar­iffs on woolens in 1846. The repeal of tar­iffs sig­naled the end of the sheep era, and by 1850, the year after Green­bank pur­chased the mill from Bolton, the num­ber of sheep in Danville had dropped to 3,653.

Google map show­ing how to get to Greenbank’s Hollow

4 Responses to Greenbank’s Hollow

  1. Susan Maurice says:

    I came upon this his­tor­i­cal gem by acci­dent the other day after I had left Keiser Pond with my dog for the upteenth time this Sum­mer. I decided to take Brook Road and see where I ended up. I was so impressed and sur­prised by this his­tor­i­cal marker. The next time I plan to stop and visit the sites that have been marked. I did read the sign by the State his­tor­i­cal soci­ety. I decided then I would read more on line.

    I plan to head that way this week­end and check it out closer. Such a fas­ci­nat­ing store.
    Thanks for your info. here.


  2. John Mackenzie says:

    To Dave and crew,
    Thank you so much for cre­at­ing this won­der­ful his­tor­i­cal site. I stopped off one beau­ti­ful fall after­noon with my mother, and we walked with my twins all along your paths, right to the edge of the sur­pris­ingly wild and rapid “brook”. We had recently watched the 1981 doc­u­men­tary on Ben Thresher’s Mill, and your inter­pre­tive trail only fur­ther whet­ted our appetite for the local his­tory of mills. You have enriched the fab­ric of our com­mu­nity. It’s the very best kind of edu­ca­tional expe­ri­ence!

  3. Bob Brennan says:

    I live over to Troy, Maine and have a gran­ite busi­ness here at my farm. I was “lost” try­ing to find a place in Peacham and stopped at a cou­ple of won­der­ful farms with very nice peo­ple who offered direc­tions and even­tu­ally some­ones grand­son son actu­ally led me sev­eral miles to my des­ti­na­tion on the Var­num Rd. Gosh what beau­ti­ful coun­try up that way. Any­way, when I was ready to head back east I told the fella I did not want to back­track and he said to take a right out of his door­yard and the first right on the dirt road go ova the cov­ered bridge and even­tu­ally I would get to Rt. 2 in Danville. Great old farms and fab­u­lous views down thru there. I came down one long grade and saw the bridge and a his­tor­i­cal marker that sur­prised the heck out of me. Even tho it was rain­ing I stopped and read it and took a brochure. A fas­ci­nat­ing story and area. Look­ing around I think I heard the mill run­ning and peo­ple talk­ing and bustling about. Another trip ova there will hap­pen and an explo­ration of the area. Bob (Maine Gran­ite King)

  4. Kathy says:

    We stum­bled upon this spot this last fall and found it to be a delight­ful set­ting! Such a lovely cov­ered bridge and the his­tory was fas­ci­nat­ing … hope to get back again some time and walk more of the paths and explore more along the brook. Thanks for post­ing the his­tory online!

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