Newspaper Clippings for
from the pages of the Chicago Tribune 18 September 1994
Shelves hold history in general store
by Marlene Golin (Special to the Tribune)
Driving along U.S. Highway 45 in Lake
County, it's easy to motor right through
tiny Millburn. There are no shopping
centers, movie theaters or major businesses
in the quiet and quaint community.
Millburn doesn't shout its presence. It does,
however, boast the oldest operating general store
in Lake County.
In operation since 1862, when cobbler Richard
Pantell paid $200 for three-quarters of an acre to
build a store, Martin's General Store brims with
antiques and pre-1920s memorabilia (Pantell's
adopted son had the last name of Martin, thus
the store name.)
The extensive variety will appeal to the nostalgia
buff, the antiques addict or the mildly curious.
Much of what is displayed is museum quality
and not commonly seen in commercial shops.
Those things are for exhibit only, but there also
is a diversity of merchandise available for sale.
Browsing through the small store, the visitor
will be impressed by the extensive variety of museum
items on the shelves. Among the treasures are farm
implements, kitchen necessities of the time,
personal items such as a water bottle, baby
goods and dolls. Books date as far back as 1886.
There is some unusual clothing, such as a black
wedding dress worn by its owner in 1885.
Dorothy Fettinger, chairwoman of the Historic
Millburn Community Association, explained that
"white was not common; most people were too
frugal to have a one-occasion dress. Black could
also be worn at funerals."
Occasionally a bride must have splurged, however.
Displayed on a dress dummy just a few feet
away from the black dress is a lovely white
turn-of-the-century wedding gown.
"Much of what is here has been brought in by
residents who have found things in attics, barns
and cellars," Fettinger said. "We would like not
to have collectibles, though some appropriate
items are accepted on consignment. At least 50
percent of our visitors are older people who
enjoy the nostalgia and purchase what their
moms or grandparents disposed of."
The building also houses reminders of its own
past. A coffee grinder that was part of the original
store sits on the counter. And a letter rack
hangs next to the front window - from the days
between 1864 and 1904 when the store housed a
post office. Old dated mail and a number of leather
postcards are available for viewing. On
the shelf is an aged wallpaper book its owner
used as an album. Pasted on the pages are
envelopes postmarked 1903. The letters that filled
those envelopes were lost or destroyed.
Glass containers of penny candy (no longer just
1 cent) sit on the front counter much as they
might have more than 100 years ago.
Photographs of previous owners of the store
through the years hang on the walls along with
framed pictures of local sites and local residents
from years past.
Staffed by volunteers only, the museum and general
store are at the junction of U.S. Highway 45
and Grass Lake Road. Admission is free. It is open
on a limited basis March 12 through Dec. 10. Hours
are 12:30 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 9
a.m. to noon most Wednesdays. It's best
to phone ahead. ____-356-____