Tucked above lovely Mill Creek, two attached 19th-century stone buildings remain, weed-choked monuments to their history as a gun manufacturing mill; a carpet-yarn factory; and a clubhouse for Boyz II Men. The boarded-up buildings are adjacent to Rolling Hill Park, where there are still remains of the tenements where the mill workers used to live. Now the 2.6-acre Barker Mill, owned by O'Neill Properties, has been approved for a 33-unit multifamily development, and its sealed-bid auction deadline has been extended to Dec. 12.
The Boyz II Men "clubhouse," as they liked to call it, was Stonecreek Studios, formerly a space that served as recording digs for Public Enemy, Patti LaBelle, DJ Jazzy Jeff and Teddy Pendergrass. When the Boyz got there in the mid-'90s, they started to put their personal stamp on the place, according to the Inquirer:
A tropical fish tank, home to four technicolor fish named after each group member, is built into another wall. The other offices are less extravagant. Michael's panther room (which features a large plaster black panther) is all black from floor to ceiling. Wanya's is white and beige with a fish-tank coffee table. Patty Thompson, the executive director of the Lower Merion Conservancy, is perhaps less interested in that era of the mill's history than in its earlier past. Writing in the Main Line Media News a few weeks ago, Thompson said she believes the mill—"an incredible building with tall windows designed to shed light for workers crafting goods in an age before we had electricity"—merits preservation:
Hand-made iron ties can be seen on the outside of the building — a building technique from long ago. The building is directly adjacent to the incredible beautiful Mill Creek and nestled between Mill Creek Valley Park and Rolling Hill Park — over 100 acres of open space. So here is the question: is there a preservation-minded buyer with a clever solution to preserve the character of the building and develop the property in such a way that we all win? ...If you have a creative idea, give me a call and let's see what could happen.
So, yes, give her a call. Otherwise, Boyz II Men's legendary past could be lost to the mists of time.
· Listing: 1400 Mill Creek Road, Gladwyne [Sheldon Good]