Pears Mill opens season Saturday

BUCHANAN – A historic attraction reopens to visitors on Saturday morning.

Pears Mill, located in downtown Buchanan near The Common in the National Register Historic District, is a water-powered mill from 1857. The mill offers an opportunity for visitors to see a glimpse back in time to life of the early settlers in the Buchanan area.

Alan Robandt, board chair of the Buchanan Preservation Society, said this year’s operations will be more protective and conservative than in years’ past. The mill tours were closed in 2020 during the height of the pandemic.

“We’re practicing COVID-19 safety guidelines for both our volunteers, as well as the public who will come to visit,” Robandt said.

Pears Mill will have primary access at its west entrance, with an outdoor set up in case people do not feel comfortable going inside.

“Of the 13-known water-powered mills build along Buchanan’s McCoy Creek during the 19th century, only one remains – Pears Mill (pronounced ‘Peers’), a flour mill constructed in a very simple Italianate/Greek Revival-style,” according to the City of Buchanan’s website.

Demonstrations this season will include corn grinding, quilt makers, dulcimer music, beading, net-making, rug hooking and presentations about industries on the St. Joseph River.

“We are not doing a schedule of demonstrators this summer,” Robandt said. “At the time we were making plans for the summer, [we took into consideration that it is] close contact, typically.”

The demonstrators typically are older, putting them in the higher risk categories for COVID-19.

Robandt is confident there will be demonstrators and activities each weekend for visitors to enjoy, however.

The mill’s wheel this year required more maintenance than in years’ past due to the unusual freeze-thaw pattern.

“It sits in water. It gets snowed on, frozen and baked in the sunshine,” Robandt said. “We discovered after this past mild winter, water was pouring through instead of rotating it.”

Pears Mill is maintained, restored and operated by the Buchanan Preservation Society. Its operation is fully volunteer run.

Admission to the mill is free, with donations accepted. Group tours of four or less can be scheduled.

Pears Mill will be open 9 a.m. to. 1 p.m. Saturday, May 29, and each Saturday through Labor Day weekend.

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