Buchanan, Michigan, first settled in 1833 and later named for future president James Buchanan, was originally settled on McCoy Creek because of a gradual 60-foot drop in water level leading to the St. Joseph River. To take advantage of this constant source of water power mills sprang up all along the banks of McCoy creek. Of the 13 known water-powered mills built along Buchanan's McCoy Creek during the 19th Century, only one remains - Pears Mill (pronounced "Peers"), a flour mill constructed in 1853 in a very simple Italianate/Greek Revival style.
By 1983 the original structure, which was still in use as a farmers co-op, had been enclosed and altered by many additions and was completely sheathed in corrugated steel. That year the business ceased operations at that site and the building was slated for demolition. But within the eyesore remained the beauty of the original mill with its huge hand-hewn post and beam construction, 12 over 12 windows and the massive native fieldstone basement. The Buchanan Preservation Society, a non-profit organization founded in 1980, mounted a successful campaign to save the building.
Pears Mill has undergone faithful restoration and is administered and operated by the all-volunteer Buchanan Preservation Society. Occasional demonstrations of historic trades such as weaving, blacksmithing and basket weaving; rotating exhibits of Buchanan's history, stone-ground flour and meal available to take home, and a mill gift counter all guarantee something to capture your interest.
Admission is free (although donations are appreciate). The Mill is open Saturday from 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. from Memorial Day Weekend through Labor Day Weekend and occasionally on Sunday for special events. Group tours are available outside of these hours by prior arrangement. The Mill generally operates on Saturdays during Mill hours.
Pears Mill is located in downtown Buchanan south of Front Street between Oak and Days. There is plenty of free parking available so stop by and visit a one-of-a-kind flour and grist mill.
The mill race has been restored and will be completed during the season of 2013. Call to make sure the waterwheel is functioning.