Beckman Mill Visitor Center
Beckman Mill Park’s Visitor Center was constructed by the Friends of Beckman Mill’s volunteer work crew. It was completed in 2006 and is patterned after Herman and Augusta Griinke’s creamery that was once on the property. The Visitor Center serves as a gift shop and includes a creamery display, a blacksmith shop display and modern rest rooms. An office and meeting room are on the second floor. The original Griinke creamery building was located on the west side of what is now County Road H. It was in the general area of the entrance to the parking lot.
Augusta Griinke was a sister of Charlie and Henry Beckman who were the owners and operators of the mill. Augusta’s granddaughter, Frances Naugle Peterson, is an active member of Friends of Beckman Mill and has contributed greatly to the success of the organization. Fran, as she is known, not only played a key role in the creation of the Visitor Center/Griinke Creamery, but also the unique Griinke covered foot bridge located in the park below the dam.
The visitor center is open Saturday and Sunday, 1-4 p.m., May thru October.
The Griinke Creamery by Frances Naugle Peterson
On July 30, 1891, Herman Rudolph Griinke married Augusta Wilhelmina Beckmann, a sister of Charles and Henry Beckmann. The newlyweds moved to Chicago in search of jobs so they could save money to build a home in Newark Township where Augusta had grown up and where Hermanʼs family had settled after coming from Germany. In Chicago they found jobs selling vegetables, meat and fish from a horse-drawn wagon. Some time later they were notified that the Beckman Mill was going bankrupt so they decided to pack up their belongings and return to Newark Township with the $2,000 they had saved. Instead of using the money for their home, they used it to save the mill from bankruptcy. Herman became a partner in the mill and worked there until an accident occurred which caused him to lose two fingers. Soon thereafter, the Beckmans bought out the Griinke interest in the mill and Herman took over the operation of a creamery that was located across the road from what would be the Griinke home. The present Visitor Center / Griinke Creamery is patterned after that creamery and is in memory of Herman and Augusta for the sacrifices they made to save the Beckman Mill.