Drink up cider and history at Yates

By: Linda Shepard | Rochester Post | Published September 11, 2013

ROCHESTER HILLS — For the past 150 years, Yates Cider Mill has maintained a spot on the Clinton River, first as a sawmill, then providing grain, and now apple cider.

In celebration of the mill’s sesquicentennial, the owners plan to mark the milestone with an application for a Michigan historical marker, a ceremony, a three-day party and more.

The mill’s history will serve as a celebration rallying point.

“We want to involve everyone in the community,” said Yates Cider Mill clerk Hannah Springer.

Springer is working with Rochester Hills Museum Supervisor Pat McKay in a search for old photographs of the mill.

“We are reaching out to people to look at pictures stashed away in Grandma and Grandpa’s attic,” Springer said. “We would love to have those pictures.”

“We are trying to gather all historical information for the state marker application,” McKay said. “We are looking for people and families who live in the area with the mill in the background, pictures of the mill and how it has changed … if they would provide copies and any stories about the cider mill.”

Yates is a Michigan landmark and a registered historic site, and has been making apple cider with water power from the Clinton River since the Yates family installed a cider mill in 1876 and local farmers began bringing apples for custom pressing.

Springer said a memory wall with a pen attached would be constructed inside the mill during the sesquicentennial celebration, inviting all to share a past experience at or about Yates.

“A memory that is important to them,” she said.

A recent telephone call from a man in Florida inspired the memory wall.

“He said he will be coming here just for the celebration and bringing his grandchildren,” Springer said. “Just because he has such vivid memories of coming here.”

A sesquicentennial ceremony is planned for 1 p.m. Sept. 21 at the cider mill, which is located near the intersection of Avon Road and Dequindre.

“The mayor will be here, and someone from the Michigan Historical Commission,” said Darlene Narloch, Yates Cider Mill office manager. A timeline of the mill’s history will greet all at the mill entrance.

On Sept. 19, 20 and 21, a series of entertainers will greet visitors to the mill, including Magician Baffling Bill, the Colonial Michigan Fife and Drum Corps and a strolling barbershop quartet. Springer said they plan to “roll back prices” for select customers on old-fashioned treats like candy apples.

“So many great memories have been created by families visiting Yates,” said Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan Barnett in a statement. “Whether it’s experiencing the cider press, biting into a warm doughnut, or getting your family picture by the historic red barn, Yates continues to be a community tradition. We are excited to join them in celebrating this significant milestone of our community’s oldest business.”

“It is an honor to be a part of keeping the Yates legacy going,” said Mike Titus, Yates Cider Mill owner, in a statement. “Visiting Yates has become a tradition for many families, and we are excited to celebrate this milestone with our extended family.”

For more information about the upcoming sesquicentennial celebration, visit www.yatescidermill.com.