Former Doylestown mill converted into 9,500-square-foot 'living beauty' lists for $3.995M

An 18th century Bucks County estate that sits on close to 10 acres at the site of a historic gristmill — with the preserved mill now incorporated into the home — is being listed for $3.995 million.

The structure, Shelly Mill, was built in the 1770s and has seen ongoing renovations and additions throughout its history. The 9,500-square-foot home on Burnt House Hill Road in Doylestown now totals six bedrooms and eight bathrooms. The property is situated along Watson Creek and includes a 20-by-40-foot pool, a detached outbuilding with a pottery studio, summer kitchen and four-car garage, along with an abundance of wildlife. The interior is characterized by exposed beams, wood paneling and exposed stone running throughout. Elements include reclaimed stained glass windows and a number of historic artifacts spanning the home’s lifetime.

“You pinch yourself every time you wake up here, it’s that spectacular,” said Steven Trachtenberg, who has owned the home along with his wife Fiona for the past eight years.

He and Fiona both have a background in arts and design. Steven had a career in manufacturing and both he and Fiona worked in product design.

The property at one point was home to the Ely family, who invented and popularized a distinct form of milling. The preserved mill room is the calling card of the home, and Trachtenberg says he still has wheat and flour bags from the Ely family’s patented milling. The waterwheel stretches 18 feet in diameter and is incorporated into the design of the home’s main floor. The former grain shaft was repurposed into an elevator as well.

“The whole thing belongs in the Mercer Museum,” said listing agent Jay Spaziano, referring to a Doylestown attraction operated by the Bucks County Historical Society.

The home around the mill, though much preserved, has changed throughout the years. Steven said the home essentially doubled in size from 2005 to 2007. The addition was done “in vein of the 18th century” with all wood and millwork done on site to replicate the style of the colonial period, he said. Trachtenberg said that each of the home’s past owners have put their own spin on the property and “moved it forward.” Since the Trachtenbergs have owned the home, some walls were taken down, hardwood floors were put in, the back facade of the home was redone, the pool was added and so were outdoor cascading stone stairs and a bluestone patio.

“It’s a piece of art, it’s a living beauty,” Steven said. “We’re very fortunate to have been here and added our own touch to it.”

Other unique aspects of the home include glass said to have originated at the original Philadelphia Opera House, thousands of Grueby tiles from Boston, stained glass from the Detroit Children’s Museum and a former sliding jail cell door that now serves as a dog door.

“The eclectic nature, the mishmash of all the kinds of things in the home really just add to its mystique,” Steven said.

Trachtenberg said that despite the sprawling size of the property it “oozes warmth.” He pointed to the exposed stone and wood, specifically in the great room which has 20-foot-high ceilings, as comforting elements of the home.

The location is another aspect of the home he and his family enjoyed. Spaziano, of Jay Spaziano Real Estate, called it a “park-like setting” and Trachtenberg said “you feel like you’re in your own little world.” With the privacy, the property still sits less than five miles to downtown Doylestown and nearby Route 202, making for a short drive to downtown New Hope as well.

As far as who could be the next caretaker of the home, Trachtenberg left it open-ended, adding that someone with an appreciation for nature and history would get the most out of the property.

“It could be absolutely anyone,” he said. “I think someone who has an appreciation for history, appreciation for something of yesteryear yet with some modern touches that make it what it is.”


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