Milan Michigan was established in 1831. The roots of history run deep into our community soil. But history, devoid of preservation, would soon be lost as we advance into the future. Downtown Milan, the Old Fire Barn and Friend Hack House are all on the National Parks Register of Historical Places.
Milan's City Council and civic leaders have placed a high priority on preserving pieces of Milan's history. Our children, though progressive in their education, must have a visual understanding of the generations before today. That is why Milan is active in preserving a few treasures from the past for public appreciation.
Community House: Michigan is probably most recognized as the world’s hub of the automotive industry. It would be a good assumption that nearly every town in Southeast Michigan has a statue, building or some other memorabilia that recognizes the car industry. Within Milan are buildings from the Ford Village Industries.
Shown here is the Community House. The Community House was built in the early 1834 as a gristmill, and then was purchased by Henry Ford in 1935, when at that time it was used for processing soybeans to make paint for automobiles. The Community House is located on Neckel Court and available for small group rentals. Contact Parks and Recreation at 439-1549. We are proud to recognize these building as part of “Motorcities” the Automobile National Heritage Area. Check out their web site www.motorcities.org
Location: 50 Neckel Court
Hack House Museum: Olive Friend built the Hack Housein1883.
She grew up in Milan, but moved to New York in 1883 with her family, promoting stock in the “Electric Sugar Refining Company.” Olive and her family insisted they had invented an electric sugar refining machine, but it had to be kept secret. Investors were not allowed to see the sugar being refined by the electric refining machine. Olive and her family sold stock in the company in New York and in Europe. The investors bought stock and purchased an old flour mill at 18 Hamilton St., in Brooklyn, for the much-anticipated sugar refinery. But none of the investors on Wall Street were allowed to see the actual machine; it was a “secret.”
Olive realized the stock sales would end badly. Investors would eventually find out there was no electric sugar refining machine, and she would need a quick escape from New York. So Olive bought some land in Milan from her uncle, Henry Hack, on County Road east of Milan. She built a beautiful Victorian stick-style home. It seemed like the perfect way to escape her problems in New York. Olive included several barns, a summer kitchen, and a lavish three-hole outhouse near her new home. Olive’s mother built another home exactly like it at the corner of Arkona and Platt Roads. In 1889, sure enough, the Electric Sugar Refining Machine enterprise blew up, creating a world-wide shock wave. Newspapers all over the US, Canada, and Europe reported on Olive Friend and the sugar machine scandal. Olive and her family hunkered down in her new home in Milan, hoping to escape the angry investors. Even so, Olive and her family were arrested by the Washtenaw Sheriff and put on a train to New York, where they spent about a year in jail. Olive’s step-father was tried and convicted of stock fraud. When he left Sing Sing prison, he returned to Milan and lived out his days near the Hack House. Olive lived in her home in Milan after her jail time. But she longed for the big city. She married George Halstead, one of the New York sugar conspirators, and moved to Detroit with him. She sold the beautiful home to her cousin, Jim Hack. Jim and his wife Daisy Hack lived in the house for 72 years. Daisy enjoyed baking sugar cookies for guests. Milan residents call it the “Hack House” after them. It is currently owned by the Milan Area Historical Society.
Location: 775 County Street