This Historic Ohio Gristmill Looks Like a Perfect Live-Work Space

  • Germantown addition and garage

    Germantown addition and garage

  • Germantown great room

    Germantown great room

  • Germantown mill outside

    Germantown mill outside

It's not often that a property comes on the market that can trace its roots back to the very founding of a town, but that's the case with this $330,000 home in Germantown, OH, about 15 miles southwest of Dayton.

The 7,344-square-foot home sits on the site where the town's founder, Philip Gunckel, built his first gristmill in 1805. The structure currently sitting on the site was built by Gunckel's son-in-law in the 1840s.

Since then, the four-bedroom home has served not only as a mill to grind grain from the area, or gristmill in 19th-century vernacular, but as a cigar factory, tobacco warehouse, and an antiques shop before two local school teachers set about restoring it as a residence in the early 1990s.

The current owners have lived in the home -- which also has a 2,000-square-foot garage designed to resemble a firehouse -- since 2003 and continued renovating the upstairs living areas, says listing agent Rick Melton.

The home, which sits on a half-acre of land and abuts a local biking and walking trail, has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1975 and is well-known in the Germantown area, explains Melton. The owners have "had people stop and want to come in and look," Melton says.

What they'd find inside are foot-thick brick walls, original wood flooring, post and beam construction featuring original oak beams, and pieces of the equipment that were part of the former mill, Melton says. A brick addition to the original mill structure includes a first-floor mother-in-law suite with bathroom and bedroom, he notes. A main bathroom upstairs has been updated, and the home sports new double-pane windows. Bonus: The home has a rope-operated elevator!

The detached garage, built by a previous owner who collected antique firetrucks, could be turned into a massive man cave, an office, or a workspace, Melton notes. The property is zoned for commercial use, and Melton has heard from potential buyers who are considering the property as a live-work space. In fact, the couple who bought it in the 1990s lived there and operated a local museum on the premises.

The home sits at the southern tip of the town's Main Street. Town founder Gunckel built his first mill, made of logs, on the site and the town grew up around it, according to local histories Melton has found.

Gunckel had led 24 German-speaking settlers from Pennsylvania to the area searching for new homes, according to local history. When Gunckel laid out lots in the new town for sale, he advertised that his mill "offered as many inducements for local craftsmen to settle … as any other situation in this part of the country."

That allure is still there for lovers of historical structures such as this piece of local history.