Paint Creek Cider Mill Stands on Historical Mill Site

Paint Creek Cider Mill in Goodison is a popular stop for outdoor enthusiasts who use the Paint Creek Trail, as well as for those passersby who crave a good, cold glass of cider and a doughnut during the fall season. Although the present structure was built over the course of a decade beginning in 1958, its location has been the site of a mill for 184 years—since Michigan was a territory. 

Front of building showing the sign listing the township offices that have space in the building

Paint Creek Cider Mill Stands on Historical Mill Site – photo by Michael Dwyer

Col. Needham Hemingway built the first mill on the property in 1835, and his sons, Freeman and Henry, later operated it. Hemingway migrated to Oakland Township, which was still unbroken wilderness at the time, from New York State in 1825. His mill, powered by water from Paint Creek, was a pioneer business in Oakland Township, and the small hamlet that would become Goodison grew up around it.  

William Goodison bought the Hemingway mill in 1866 and the little Oakland Township settlement took his name in 1872 when the railroad came through and added a stop there. The Hemingway mill ground grain for over a century, passing through the hands of several owners in the process. Operation of the gristmill ceased in 1941 upon the death of Maurice Collins, who owned it at that time. 

Old mill building, made of wood, two stories tall.

In 1923, the old Needham Hemingway mill featured a billboard for the T.E. Nichols store in Rochester – photo courtesy of Deborah J. Larsen

In 1945, Dale O. Miller, Sr., the owner of Rochester Gear Works in Goodison, purchased the old mill with thoughts of restoring it. His original plan for the aged structure was ambitious—he hoped to install a water wheel that could produce enough electricity to power the mill as well as the buildings in the immediate area. 

Unfortunately, the old Hemingway mill was found to be structurally unsound and beyond preservation, so Miller began dismantling it in 1953 and stored the old mill’s large timbers for future use. He hired the architecture firm of Giffels & Vallet, L. Rossetti to design a new cider mill that would be a tourist destination. The new structure featured Mid-Century Modern and Swiss Chalet style influences. Salvaged timbers from the old Needham Hemingway mill were used as corner support beams in the new building, thereby paying homage to the site’s history.

Paint Creek Cider Mill Rochester

Miller also collected salvaged materials from other Detroit-area buildings and incorporated them into his new mill. 

Construction of the current building began in 1958 and was completed in stages over the following decade. The wheelhouse was built first, then the cider mill, and finally, in 1968 a “bridge” was built to connect the two structures. Because cider is a seasonal business, other streams of income are always helpful to mill owners. Miller leased part of his cider mill building to an antique shop for a few years. 

The Former Paint Creek Cider Mill Restaurant Sign, oval shape, with a fish as it's focal point

The Former Paint Creek Cider Mill Restaurant Sign – photo by Michael Dwyer

In 1976, the Millers sold Paint Creek Cider Mill to William G. “Jerry” Mancour, who, with his family, operated it for two decades. In 1983, the Mancours added a restaurant—Oakland Township’s first—in the space where the antique shop had been. Ray Nicholson bought the property from the Mancours in 1996 and donated it to Oakland Township in 2005.

The township uses part of the space for offices and leases the cider mill space to a restaurateur who operates a café there. Paint Creek Cider Mill’s café operates year-round and offers a lunch/dinner menu in addition to cider, doughnuts, and ice cream. The restaurant smokes and slow-roasts its own meats, and takes pride in its cooked-from-scratch menu that incorporates organically grown local produce. 

Visitors to Paint Creek Cider Mill may read about the history of the location from a Michigan Historical Marker located near the wheelhouse. The marker, placed in 2002, explains the importance of the Paint Creek millrace dug by Needham Hemingway to Goodison’s pioneer economy. A new Michigan Historical Marker, specific to the history of the Paint Creek Cider Mill building, was approved recently by the Michigan Historical Commission and was dedicated at the site on October 7.

Paint Creek Historical Marker

Paint Creek Historical Marker

The Paint Creek Cider Mill is open 11:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m. and serves lunch and dinner, as well as cider and donuts in the fall season. The also sell a variety of bakery items and ice cream, try their Apple Cider Milk Shake for a fun treat.

The Paint Creek Cider Mill is one of three cider mills in Oakland Township, and is only a quarter mile from the Goodison Cider Mill.

Paint Creek Cider Mill

4480 Orion Road

248-656-3400

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. Sarah Hubler says:

    I used to work at the restaurant owned by the Mancours as a “Busgal” (Mr.Mancour’s name for us female busboys), and then in the cider mill helping him make doughnuts.
    Good times!

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