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Cemetery Auxiliary celebrating 100 years

Historic Milmine Hall in Lakeville will host the Lakeville Cemetery Auxiliary Societyís centennial celebration on Saturday, June 12 from 1-4 p.m. (click for larger version)
May 26, 2010 - The unsung heroes of the Lakeville Cemetery are celebrating their group's 100th birthday and the public is invited to attend the party.

On Saturday, June 12, the Lakeville Cemetery Auxiliary Society is hosting an open house at the historic Milmine Hall in Lakeville from 1-4 p.m.

The purpose is to celebrate the society's century-long efforts to maintain and improve Addison Township's main cemetery, located along E. Drahner Rd., south of Lakeville.

"We've tried to beautify the cemetery," said Cemetery Auxiliary President Marlene Mallia. "Over the years, we've gotten so much done. We put in a gazebo. We have all kinds of water spigots now. We put the flag poles in. We have a Porta John. We've basically cleaned it up. Now, it's just a matter of maintenance."

In addition to promoting its good works and celebrating its centennial anniversary, the open house is also a way for the society to showcase all the renovations that have been made, both inside and out, to the 159-year-old Milmine Hall, which regularly hosts the group's spaghetti dinner fund-raisers.

"People can come in and see what we've done to that hall," Mallia said. "It was such a mess and we restored it. It still needs a paint job, but basically, it's about done."

The society was founded in 1910 by Mrs. Darwin Miller, who wished to start a group dedicated to restoring and maintaining the grounds of the Lakeville Cemetery. The first organizational meeting was held June 11 of that year in the Lakeville home of Mrs. Edna McKay.

Mallia, who's been president of the society since 1999, noted that when the auxiliary was first formed "those women paid for all" the cemetery improvements and maintenance. Later, the township hired a sexton and grounds-keeper.

"We just fill in the spaces," Mallia said. "We planted big flower beds and we maintain them. Now, we're working on (putting in) memorial pavers, similar to what they did (at the veterans memorial) in Lake Orion. That's going to be our next project."

The pavers will be sold to people who wish to honor someone or their memory.

It's fitting that the society's open house will take place at Milmine Hall because in November 1928, the people voted to give the group the privilege of using the ground floor to hold its "parties, entertainments, suppers, etc." To this day, so long as the society exists, it has exclusive use of the ground floor.

Built in 1851, Milmine Hall, which was once a general store, is the oldest standing store building in not only the Village of Lakeville, but all of Addison Township.

The structure was deeded to the township in January 1929 and in 1978 it became a registered historic site with the State of Michigan. Today, the state historical marker greets visitors as they enter the front door.

Mallia invites everyone to come out to the open house to enjoy some refreshments, tour the hall and learn more about all the good work the society does.

"Hopefully, we'll get three or four more members," she said. "That would be good."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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