Goodison Cider Mill is Now in Its Sixth Decade of Cider Making

The Goodison Cider Mill has been a fixture in the small community that shares its name for over half a century. Lloyd Blankenburg, a local fruit grower, and his wife, Marion, opened the mill in 1965. At the time, the Blankenburgs were already operating a fruit stand on the property, so they expanded the building and added a cider press. The fruit stand had stood at the location since the 1920s, and one section of the current building dates from that time.

Lloyd and Marion Blankenburg stand infront of the mill

The First Owners, Lloyd and Marion Blankenburg

When Lloyd Blankenburg decided to go into the cider business, he learned from one of the best. Harry Yates, who had only a few years earlier retired and sold his family cider mill at Avon & Dequindre to Charles and Ruth Posey, taught the Blankenburgs the craft of cider making. Yates also sold the couple a cider press.

Goodison Fruit Stand

Goodison Fruit Stand

The Blankenburgs operated Goodison Cider Mill seasonally until 1978, when they retired and sold the business to Tom and Ruth Barkham. Tom Barkham, a veterinarian, was looking for a bigger location for his practice at the time and was considering using the Goodison Cider Mill property for his animal clinic. Lloyd Blankenburg suggested that Dr. Barkham try running the cider mill, and the rest, as they say, is history. The Barkhams reopened Goodison Cider Mill in 1979. They made some upgrades, including the installation of stainless-steel holding tanks, but continued to make cider in the same time-honored way that had been used by the Blankenburgs. The Barkhams sold the mill in 1990, it sold again a year later, and current owner Robert Steinheiser has been running it since 1991.

Steinheiser had young children when he purchased the cider mill. He thought the enterprise would be a good educational opportunity for them and would provide them with some valuable lessons about running a business. Things didn’t work out exactly that way, Steinheiser now recalls with a chuckle. His children were busy with many other activities. “I’m the one who got the education,” he says. Cider making tends to be an all-hands-on-deck family operation. However, today only Steinheiser’s oldest son works with him in the cider mill.

Lloyd and Marion Blankenburg in the apple orchard behind the cider mill.

Lloyd and Marion Blankenburg in the apple orchard behind the cider mill.

At 28 years and counting, Steinheiser has owned Goodison Cider Mill longer than any of the other proprietors in its history. He presses his cider from locally-sourced produce, using the same press—now over one hundred years old—that the Blankenburgs bought from Harry Yates more than half a century ago.

Robert Steinheiser loading the press

Robert Steinheiser loading the Goodison Cider Mill press – photo by Michael Dwyer

Goodison Cider Mill is open 7 days a week, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. through the end of November. Then, just weekends (Friday-Sunday) in December with Christmas Eve being their last day open for the season. They offer Sunday afternoon activities – weather depending – call ahead to find out what’s going on to be sure. They are known for their “World Famous” Pistachio Nut Bread, and of course cider, donuts, pies, dumplings, candy, jellies, and jams. They sell Mums in September and Pumpkins in October. The Goodison Cider Mill is the “other cider mill” in town, being just a quarter mile northeast of the Paint Creek Cider Mill building.

The mill with the open sign on

Goodison Cider Mill Today – photo by Michael Dwyer

Goodison Cider Mill

4295 Orion Road

Rochester Hills

248-652-8450

 

Historical images provided by the Blankenburg Family

About Deborah J. Larsen

Deborah J. Larsen recently retired after 34 years as local history librarian at Mount Clemens Public Library. She currently serves as the research chairperson for the Rochester-Avon Historical Society, and writes on a wide range of local history topics.

Comments

  1. Donald Worrell says:

    Thank you for featuring another highly engaging historical article by Ms. Larsen! I always enjoy them thoroughly and look forward to the next.

  2. Wonderful article. We knew these families as I grew up on Winkler Mill Rd and my grandma and grandpa came from the old country ot farm. They owned the farm on the corner of Mead and Winkler Mill. It’s wonderful taking a walk back in time with the Goodison Cider Mill. Thank you for sharing!

    Sydney Zaremba

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