Sharon Mills near Manchester was built in the 1830s. Later a gristmill was erected and operated by John Rice and subsequently by the Kirkwood family until the late 1920s. In 1928, Sharon Mills was purchased by Henry Ford for use as a small plant. He rebuilt the mill, added a stone addition, and installed a hydroelectric generator for power. Sharon Mills became the thirteenth Ford Village Industries plant employing approximately 15 men who manufactured cigar lighters. Regrettably, Ford’s Village Industries concept proved economically nonviable and the Sharon Mills plant closed in 1946. This association with Henry Ford makes this site particularly significant according to the Michigan Historic Commission. Apart from a brief period as an antique business, through the 1950s until the close of the ’80s, Sharon Mills was used primarily as a private residence. Sharon Mill was listed as a State Register Historic Site in 1989. In the 1990s, the mill was converted into the Sharon Mills Winery, bottling and selling Michigan wines. When the winery closed, the family sold the mill and its 24-acre site to the Washtenaw County Parks and Recreation Commission (WCPARC) in December 1999. Additional purchases of surrounding farmland have increased the park to 170 acres.
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