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

3 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)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.