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Leonard looks to buy old mill



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The old mill in Leonard may soon be put to public use. Photo by Lance Farrell. (click for larger version)
June 20, 2012 - At long last the efforts of many dedicated Addison citizens seem to have paid off as it appears the old Leonard Elevator will once again be put to use for the good of the community.

Leonard Village President Michael McDonald reported an agreement was reached with current property owner Larry Hoffman to purchase the historic mill.

In order buy it, McDonald made sure to listen to voters in Addison Township. "We don't want to spend public tax dollars" on this project, he said.

Of the $30,000 price, $22,500 will be secured by a grant from the Michigan Natural Resource Trust Fund. The remaining $7,500 comes from Village council funds to meet the match required by the grant, McDonald said.

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The grant stipulates that a commercial appraisal and an environmental assessment be conducted, but pending these legal formalities, the purchase is expected to move forward. Though there have been delays in finalizing the purchase, the DNR has indicated that they will approve an extension on the grant, set to expire in mid-July of this year.

A precise time frame for the renovation remains unknown. McDonald said he hoped the restoration would be well under way by the end of this summer, though perhaps that's a bit optimistic, he indicated.

Once renovated, the Leonard Mill is expected to encourage Polly Ann Trail visitors to stay in Leonard and stop by the stores in the village.

Though future plans are tentative, McDonald said he imagines the Mill will house a mini-museum that celebrates the history of Leonard and the Pontiac, Oxford & Northern (P. O. & N) railroad line that ran 100

miles from Pontiac to Caseville and passed close by the mill. He expects some amenities may be added, though the historic building cannot be used as a commercial venture.

The Leonard elevator was built at what is now the Polly Ann Trail head, though no one's quite sure exactly when. Raised after a fire took the mill across the street, McDonald estimates the initial building project was completed sometime between 1900-1910. One hundred years later, it closed as the last working mill in Oakland County.

Addison Supervisor Bruce Pearson is very supportive of the project, and said he intends to partner with McDonald in any way needed. Restoring "the mill is more than just a village matter. The township and county can help (because) it's an asset for all of us," the supervisor stated.

He's glad to finally see some movement to save the historic landmark. "There are very few towns that maintain or keep these old structures," Pearson said. "There will come a time, if we're not careful, when this part of our history won't be here. These old barns, mills, and homes are fading away fast."

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