William Lea & Sons, Co.

Also known as: Lea Milling Co.
Owner: William Lea, Preston Lea, Henry Lea
Industry type: Flour mill
Location: Brandywine Village
Active dates: c. 1864-1920

Summary: The Tatnall Family Mills and Thomas Lea’s Mills were combined to form William Lea & Sons when William's sons Preston and Henry joined their father's business in 1864. An additional large flour mill known as the "A Mill" was built by the company in 1881. It is unknown exactly when the company stopped producing flour, but the company's water rights along the Brandywine were purchased by the city of Wilmington in April 1923, and the property was sold in approximately 1928 to a variety of different businesses.

The Wilmington Academy of Art occupied the second floor of one of the mill buildings from 1928-1938 before moving to the newly constructed Delaware Art Center. The Mill Theatre, part of the Wilmington Drama League, was located on the third floor in the same mill building in 1933.

Citations: Conrad, Henry Clay. History of the State of Delaware, Vol. 2. Lancaster, Penn.: Wickersham Company, 1908.

Matson, Cathy and Wendy Woloson. PEAES Guide to Manuscripts and Print Resources for Research: Historical Society of Delaware.

Scharf, John Thomas. History of Delaware 1609-1888, Vol. 2. Philadelphia: L.J. Richards & Co., 1888.

"Wilmington and its Industries." Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, April 1873, 369-388.

Zebley, Frank R. Along the Brandywine. Wilmington: William Cann, Inc., 1940.

Online sources / images: Pomeroy and Beers, Atlas of the State of Delaware, 1868. Hagley Digital Archives.

Lea Mills, photograph, 1932. Hagley Digital Archives.

William Lea & Sons, "Choice Family Flour", advertisement, c. 1890. Hagley Digital Archives.

The Brandywine, and Lea's Mills, illustration, in "Wilmington and its Industries," Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, April 1873, 371.