FULLING MILL INN
By: Duane and Paula Rhodes
Good’s Mill – History of the Property
The history of this property at 1260 Highspire Rd was the site of the first woolen mill in Pennsylvania and one of three in the nation in 1840. It was known as Good’s Mill.
Christian Good from Lancaster County and was a Whig and Dunkard Brethren. He wore a plain, dark coat with a stand-up white collar. He was an entrepreneur and landowner who established the first woolen mill here. He bought the site from Christian Hawk between 1833 and 1840. Area farmers would bring freshly shorn wool to his mill to have material or blankets made and either trade for goods at the general store or be paid outright for the wool.
A “fulling mill” worked cloth; cleaned, pounded, and pressed woven woolen goods to render them stronger. “Fulling” (sometimes called tucking or walking) is a process of cloth-making that made fibers firmer and interlocked them. The process is still used today in clothmaking. The road in front of the farm and mill was later named “Fulling Mill Road” for this process.
Early equipment of the 1800’s consisted of a wooden box or tub in which cloth was placed and which great wooden hammers or “wauks” were raised by power, a quarter of a revolution, and dropped into the cloth, pounding as water ran over and through the cloth. The 48-65 hour operation resulted in considerable shrinkage, aiding in the prevention of unraveling, and rendering threads tight and firm.
The German immigrants who worked here lived in shanties on the hill and were served one hot meal a day in the lower level worker's dining room.
The current meandering creek was dammed with a 15' to 25' deep channel feeding the conduit that gave power to water flow that turned the mill wheel and washed out the dyes from the fabrics.
In 1855, Christian sold the mill to his son, Martin, age 22, and he conducted a very prosperous business. The products of the mill became known throughout Pennsylvania and found ready sale in the surrounding communities.
By 1865, Martin was the owner of 123 acres. Here at this mill, large area rugs were achieved by joining pieces together by hand, known as “strip carpet”. With the invention of 12' to 14' looms, the strip carpets made here became obsolete and were replaced by large manufacturing processes from Amoskeage Mills, (one of the seven wonders of the world at one time) by Axminster or Bidelow carpet weavers.
Around 1870, Martin built the farmhouse and named it the Goodville House. Martin Good also managed a sawmill, icehouse, and cider press located in back of the old dam-site that was destroyed to accommodate the new Route 283. The barn was a gentleman’s barn, as Martin never farmed the acreage though he had a large garden. He kept horses, pigs, and a cow for his needs and employed a full-time cook.
Martin Good was also owner of several town lots in Steelton and Highspire, a director of the Farmers Bank of Harrisburg, and Steelton National Bank. He was a staunch Republican and United Brethren.
Martin had no legal heirs to train in the various enterprises and the property fell into disrepair under multiple owners, the last resident of which was the Etnoyer family.
Duane's father, Ken Rhodes, was in the navy stationed at Olmstead Airforce Base here in Middletown. He, and his wife Leona, were living with their three boys on Colebrook Road.
Duane wanted a horse and after saving enough money from his paper-route deliveries, his parents bought this fixer-upper farm so that they could move the horse out of their current garage.
In 1956, the Rhodes family began the awesome task of making these 35 acres, farmhouse, and barn their own. The land was full of beautiful pasture and fruit trees with a small creek intertwined throughout. The farmhouse needed modern electric, indoor plumbing, and a heating source. They uncovered original German clapboard siding hiding under asbestos siding.
The property also had the Goodville General Store building, where in the past, material was woven for suits and blankets and a variety of yard goods made here at the mill were displayed for customers to purchase. Unfortunately, the general store had been used for rentals and eventually was burned down by the local fire company.
All three boys eventually had their own horse as well and enjoyed growing up on the property.
Duane’s family property is dear to his heart since he has been taking care of it since he was twelve years old.
Duane graduated from Delaware Valley College with an Agronomist Degree, which is land and soil science, but preferred the hospitality business. He got a job during college at the Allenberry Inn at Boiling Springs. Duane has been in the hotel and restaurant field all his life.
Goodville House of 1870
In 1976, Duane, his wife Paula, and his mother Leona, opened a restaurant inside the farmhouse where his mother still lived. This fulfilled Duane’s desire of running a restaurant and began a forty-year love of operating the Goodville House of 1870. Together they enjoyed making the New England Fare she enjoyed at her family's table growing up in Concord, New Hampshire. Her apple pie with a slice of sharp cheddar could not be beat.
Duane's mother, Leona was an accomplished musician and vocalists and loved to engage our customers in sing-alongs and music games. They were delighted when she honored them with serenades on their birthdays, and anniversaries.
In 1979, Duane and Paula decided to renovate the barn next to the farmhouse on the property and raise their three children there. They kept all the original details of the interior of the barn they could, including the original wide-plank, pine floors and ladders to the hayloft. They restored the original charm of the property. The old granary is now a den with the huge old boards on the walls and floor preserved. Their children were excited to help serve in the restaurant, anticipating savoring the leftover food from the evening banquet.
The Fulling Mill Inn B&B and Restaurant
In 2013, after Leona died at age 91, Duane and Paula inherited her property and completely renovated the farmhouse, which took three years to complete. They opened what is now The Fulling Mill Inn B&B and Restaurant.
Their restaurant is by reservation only with order-ahead meals so that everything is made from scratch with the freshest ingredients. It is a charming, hide-a-way for those who love history, nature, a good night’s sleep, and delicious homemade food.
Duane and Paula still reside in the renovated barn on the property, at 3268 Fulling Mill Road, along with the renovated B&B farmhouse and restaurant on around 15 acres with the same lovely meandering creek.