Historic Hersey mill to open as general store in early May

HERSEY — There is an awesome history behind the story of the Hersey Roller Mills Store set to open on May 3. There is no one who could ever tell it with more enthusiasm than Larry Trombley.

Trombley and Joanna Lupo are the proprietors, and they have been working a long time putting the old building right next to the river and right along Main Street back together again.

They have left much intact, and Trombley doesn’t hesitate to do a great job as a tour guide, pointing out this artifact and that, how this floor will provide space for general food items and gifts, a whole array worthy of any general store from back in the “olden days” and in keeping with Hersey’s rich history.

When the Hersey General Store burned awhile back, he said he discovered a community willing to come together to help there be another, one that would incorporate many things part of the first general stores draw, and adding even more to increase the “reason to come see for yourself,” Trombley noted.

There will be antique counters to greet those who walk in the door, jars of candy to choose from, all sorts of snack items, and much more.

Upstairs there will be crafters crafting, and vendors offering a variety of items that people might take a liking to showing off their own skills.

For some, their wares will be sold on an on-going basis. For others, those Trombley said who might want to come and work on some of their crafts or artwork, perhaps knitting and the like, they can rent a bit of space “right by a window” or “over there by that good light” for $5 and spend time enjoying their hobby and the people who love to stop by to see what’s going on.

There even will be a bicycle shop located upstairs, with Steve Petoskey doing minor repairs a couple months out of the year when he’s in the area.

Trombley and others have pitched in to turn the old Hersey Roller Mills into a safe place, a historic place, and keeping that flavor as they renovated. New beams secured the steadiness and safety of the store, he noted, and he enclosed a stairwell that would have let people look straight down from three floors up right into the basement.

“It wasn’t a good feeling to be able to see that far down for some people, so we made sure it was all safe, and took away a view,” he said with a grin. The view from the third floor is one no one could forget, however, looking out over the meandering river just below.

Up there, signs that came with the building are here and there, and antique walls, cupboards, equipment and “a little bit of everything, a whole lot of something, and some things we don’t even know what they are probably will be fixed up and stay,” he said, again with a grin.

There are places that will be off limits once the store opens he explained, but was pleased to lead a leisurely tour to and through that third floor, showing the old equipment, what’s been done and what needs to be done. Then it was down into the basement where grain gushed in, and a little piece of wood had the power to stop it cold once it was inserted into the trough through which it headed.

Again, more “I wonder what this is” sorts of things to wonder about and research, but for now Trombley is excited most of all about officially opening the doors to the public next Tuesday, May 3, at 10 a.m.

The store initially will be open from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday, from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, and on Sunday from noon until 9 p.m.

Trombley said the community has been wonderful in making this dream a reality, helping out in all sorts of ways. Many have brought in historical articles and newspaper clippings that help tell the story about how a 31-year-old sheriff from Marion by the name of Frank McIntyre built the mill.

“We’ve still got a lot to learn,” Trombley said. He hasn’t had time to figure out what everything was, or maybe still is, but he intends to. In the meantime, this retired nurse who worked for 16 or 17 years providing that service in county jails and prisons, “I’ll enjoy this. I’m not lazy and I enjoy working and being around people, and it’s been a year of fun.

That fun promises to continue. This man who took apart antique cupboards and toted them piece by piece up those steps that he could see down three floors below, then rebuilt them where the crafters and vendors could best use them, has a train set tucked away. A dream is tucked away too, in his mind and in his heart, and the hunch is the little boy who lives inside both will make that dream come true.

That dream is to build a village to be part of that train display. He’s already renamed the train. And the village? Well, it will have buildings he plans to build that will look just like those that once stood “there, and over there a hundred years ago, and that one over there right today.”

Got a minute? Maybe a couple hours? Stop by the Hersey Roller Mills Store May 3 to check it out. Bet you’ll stop in again.