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The Sentinal of Grindstone City – The Wallace Mill

If you visit Grindstone City’s Harbor, you will immediately notice a large four-story stone building nobly standing on a bluff overlooking the lake. It’s an intriguing sight. I knew it was a mill but had little background if it was part of the quarry operations in the area. As usual, I was perusing old newspapers reaching another topic and came across this little blurb on the bottom of page one of the 1800s edition of the Huron Tribune. One thing leads to another, and now have a better idea of what that big stone building on the shore is.

The Huron Tribune – Bad Axe Michigan – November 11th, 1887

“The Wallace Mills is the name of the new roller mill at Grindstone City, now nearing completion, and the property of the Lake Huron Stone Co. The building is a solid stone structure 60 feet from the foundation to the top of the wall and two feet nine inches thick at the bottom and two feet at the top. All the wood in the building is thoroughly dried. It is the finest building in the county, and there is none better in the state.”

The machinery furnished by August Heiue of Silver Creek, N. Y., the same company Company that built Stafford’s and Jenks’ mills. Mr. Wallace hopes to begin operation with the new year.”

Map of Grindstone City in the 1900s

Wallace Mill - Grindstone City in 1904
Grindstone City in 1904

Grindstone City’s Booming Economy

The economy of Grindstone City was based on the operations of the stone companies. By 1888, when the town had a population of about 1500, the companies employed about two hundred men. Each operated its own store and rented houses to workers. Quarries were located only a few hundred yards from the lakeshore and were encircled by roads on which were located the houses and businesses of the town.

Stone quarried here was cut to size in the mills and shipped out via water and rail. Defective grindstones were cut down even more and turned into whetstones. The quarry companies had a salt well, a flour mill, and grain elevator and engaged in lumbering.

Michigan grindstones were of fine quality and were sold all over the world. The stones were made in various sizes ranging up to about three tons. The price of the stones was by the pound. According to a geological report: ”It is the combination of evenness of grain, sharpness of grit, and cementing material just soft enough which gives this stone its peculiar value.” Michigan was long a major producer of grindstones and, as late as 1918, was second in the nation.

Today, The Wallace Mill Is a Summer Home

The Wallace Mill as it stands today.
The Wallace Mill in 2021

Today the historic structure has been converted into a summer home. The owner, George Trajkovski, and his partner restored the structure in 2006. George noted that the building was literally falling down when he started the restoration of the 130-year-old building.

View from the Wallace Mill

One condo unit in the Wallace Mill is listed on Airbnb. It is a highly rated vacation spot in Grindstone City. The condo overlooks the lake, and its elevation on a stone bluff provides some spectacular views. This property boasts 1000 square feet of living space and a private, 300-foot vista of lake views. Walk to the Grindstone Marina (with public boat launch), convenience store, restaurants and the famous Grindstone General Store, serving the largest ice cream scoops in the county.

Sources

  • Huron Tribune – Bad Axe Michigan – November 11th, 1887. Page 1
  • Grindstone City Historic District Application, September 1971
Two Verbs News

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