Old Mission History: Cider Mill and Apple Evaporator

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The little village of Old Mission used to be a hopping place. At various times throughout history, the village was home to a variety of businesses, including a cider mill, apple evaporator, Pearl Hill’s Grocery Store, a cooper shop (which produced wooden casks, barrels, etc.), a shoe and boot shop, a steak house, Peter Dougherty’s house and mission church, and much more.

Today we’re focusing on the Old Mission Cider Mill and Apple Evaporator. We don’t have a ton of info about either of these establishments, so hopefully someone will be able to help us out.

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Here’s what we know (maybe):

The Old Mission Cider Mill was located on the corner of Mission Road and Swaney Road, directly north of where the Old Mission Congregational Church is now located. We think there’s still an old foundation in the woods there.

According to an old plat map owned by Jon Andrus, C. Reese owned the Cider Mill. The cooper shop was located directly opposite the Cider Mill, on the east side of Mission Road. According to the plat map, this was owned by George Lardie.

Old Mission village was also home to an “apple evaporator,” which we believe was located on what is now Traverse Street, directly north of the American Legion Hall and Post Office. The apple evaporator is not shown on the plat map, but my husband Tim believes there used to be a foundation there, as well.

What did they do at the apple evaporator? Based on the photos below, I’m guessing they peeled and prepped (and dehydrated?) the apples for the cider mill.

Below are some undated photos of women working at the apple evaporator. If you can supply any more info – including who the people are in any of these photos – tell us in the comments section at the bottom of this story or email me, [email protected], and I’ll add it to the story.

Interested in learning more about the history of the Old Mission Peninsula? Join the OMP Historical Society! I’m a member and can confirm that it’s a lot of fun and their monthly programs are really educational. Learn more at their website and download the membership form here.

Old Mission Apple Evaporator; date unknown (late 1800s?) | Peninsula Community Library Archival Photo
Old Mission Apple Evaporator; date unknown (late 1800s?) | Peninsula Community Library Archival Photo
Old Mission Apple Evaporator 1800s
Old Mission Apple Evaporator; date unknown (late 1800s?) | Peninsula Community Library Archival Photo

A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

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  1. Great photos! The apple evaporator was located just north of our property line, and there was a substantial foundation and the remains of a cellar there for many years — it became a receptacle for trash and was often full of stagnant water, and was finally filled in about a dozen years back so a house could be built on the site.
    Mike Norton

  2. And we live in that house that Mike mentioned in his comment! We have found a few old items, some bricks and some lumps of coal…nothing of value, but interesting none the less. I’ve been told there was an old foundation filled with water on our lot for years. Sometimes my wife claims she can smell apples in our bedroom…but she has a better smeller than I do!

  3. The “evaporator” mentioned may have also been used to make apple jelly or cider syrup. This was a common product in Michigan in the late 19th and early 20th Century. Cider mills were used to make alcohol(hard cider), cider vinegar and apple jelly.


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