Illick’s Mill: A Timeline

John Peter and his son Joseph built a gristmill on the Monocacy Creek in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania in 1856 and operated it as a flour and feed company.

The Peters sold the Mill to Samuel Shimer on April 1, 1869. Ten years later, William (Edward) Illick bought the Mill.

William (Edward) Illick’s son Joseph and Joseph’s business partner, Henry Lapp, took over the Mill in 1885. Their partnership soon dissolved, leaving Joseph the sole owner.

Joseph Illick and his family lived in a two-story dwelling south of the Mill. North of the Mill stood a three-story, wooden saw mill. Joseph Illick closed the Mill in 1902.

Otto Frey rented the Mill from the Illick family and opened the Monocacy Milling Company, grinding mostly wheat and corn until late 1915 when nearly all of the Mill machinery was sold and the Mill ceased production.

The Bethlehem Water Authority acquired the Mill in the early 1930s, and in 1935 the Civilian Conservation Corps and the Works Progress Administration constructed Monocacy Park.

Liberty High School students, under the direction of teacher Robert Thompson, founded Teens for the Restoration of Illick’s Mill in 1965 and reopened the Mill as a lively teen hangout. The Mill became the first music venue open to teenagers in the Lehigh Valley, closing in 1973.

Citizen effort led to the dedication of a 25-acre nature preserve south of the Mill in 1973. The Mill was reopened as a nature center but closed again that same year.

The Browning Theater Company performed stage productions in the Mill in 1978 and continued until 1983 under the direction of Stanley Shaffer.

The Bethlehem Jaycees ran a haunted house in the building from 1980 to 1987 and 1992 to 1994, continuing their active association with the Mill until 2000, restoring the roof with historically accurate slate and stabilizing the foundation.

The Illick’s Mill Partnership for Environmental Education, including the City of Bethlehem, the Wildlands Conservancy, the Audubon Society, and the Bethlehem Area School District began a mill restoration project in 2001.

Liberty High School students, under the direction of Liberty High School English teacher Karen Dolan, researched and restored the Mill from 2001 to 2011, creating an environmental education center at the Mill.

Karen Dolan headed the Gertrude B. Fox Environmental Center at the Mill from 2009 to 2014.

 The Appalachian Mountain Club moved three staff members into the Mill in October 2015, and is seeking volunteers to offer programs to the public based at the Mill and in Monocacy Park.