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Newspaper Clippings for
September, 1994

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-____
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