Brush Creek Mill

Brush Creek Mill is situated at the foot of the bridge into the Village of Hillman, Michigan on the bank of the Thunder Bay River at the confluence of Brush Creek. It is the site of an old Grist Mill and was constructed in that style.   The first grist mill was built on this site during the 1880s and served local farmers for over 70 years.  Around 1980, this original building fell into disrepair and was torn down.  Several years later the property was acquired by the Village.  The site remained undeveloped until, in the mid-1990s, local residents began exploring development possibilities that would provide both cultural and economic benefit to the community.

During the summer, Brush Creek Mill is open six days a week, and on weekends for the rest of the year. We offer many events throughout the year from May to December.  Our first event is a Yard Sale in conjunction with an area-wide Memorial Day weekend yard sale.  The first Saturday in June we hold a reception for the North East Michigan Artist Guild, and their work is displayed during the entire month of June. The first weekend in July is Mill River Days with lots of activity in Hillman, at the Mill we hold a Craft Sale on Saturday after the Bridge Walk, and usually have free music in the evening. In the middle of July, we hold our annual fundraiser for our children’s activities. “Teeing Up for Kids” is a golf tournament that raises money for our mini-grants, Children’s classes, and annual Christmas Party.  In August, Hillman holds a V.J. Day Celebration; at the Mill, we have a historical display from Mill River Days to mid-August honoring our Veterans.  The second week in September we hold “An Afternoon Affair” which celebrates an aspect of history-wedding dresses, antique clocks, lighthouses, shipwrecks, etc.  The first weekend in October we hold “Applefest” a craft show with antiques, spinners, baked goods, harvest apples, and our famous apple dumplings!  Beginning the second week in November the Mill comes alive with Christmas trees from businesses and churches around the area.  The first Saturday in December we hold a free Christmas party for all children in Montmorency County. The children receive a photo with Santa, choose a free book, decorate cookies, play games, complete a craft, and receive a goody bag. The first Sunday in December we hold the “Festival of Lights.” At this ceremony, we honor the living, the military, and those who have died with music and a reading of names.

A “green space” is designed, built, and operated to cause minimum environmental impact, and   Brush Creek Mill was constructed and insulated to be as airtight as possible. Sixty solar panels are positioned on the south-facing roofs that can produce from 8-10,000 watts, well more than we can consume.  Excess wattage is returned to the commercial “electric grid” for which BCM is issued credit applied toward billings of less sunny months. In addition, Brush Creek Mill provides a spectacular demonstration of waterpower driving a 22’ stainless steel water wheel at the west end of the building. Some of the energy generated by our water wheel is stored in batteries and can be used to power lights and appliances.  We also utilize the water wheel to drive the large grinding stones of our gristmill.

We offer various classes in crafts, computer, ethnic cooking, quilting, exercise, etc. Space for small parties and larger meetings may be rented at BCM.   Building tours and demonstrations of grist mill operation and the alternative energy capacity of the building are often conducted.  The Gift Shop features unique works of local artists and artisans at reasonable prices.  There are regular monthly activities such as Brush Creek Writers, Music at the Mill, Scrapbook Saturdays, and hobby groups.

In keeping with our mission statement, we are very concerned with preserving local and regional history.  The Historical Society has provided several very interesting displays of local family heritage.  We are recording audio/visual histories based on memories and stories of older residents. A major project that lies ahead will be the editing and creation of DVDs on important aspects of local and regional history such as lumbering, farming, fires, transportation, education, etc. Our most recent project is reclaiming the second floor into an artifact museum.  Brush Creek Mill provides the perfect setting to tell the story of “Northeast Lower Michigan”.

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