Sawmills in Arcadia:
The Arcadia Furniture Company Sawmill

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Towns that sprung up around lumbering generally came and went with the forests, and Arcadia might have had the same fate. On August 6, 1906 the Starke Sawmill burned down, and instead of simply rebuilding it, the company, guided by Charles J. Starke, the adopted son of Henry Starke, decided to replace the sawmill with a furniture company. The Arcadia Furniture Factory was born. Unlike most sawmill settlements that came and went with the lumber, Arcadia had a new industry and a new future.



Early Arcadia Furniture Factory
This is an early photo of the Arcadia Furniture Factory looking southeast. Construction on the factory began in late 1906 after a deal was worked out with the Fox & Mason Furniture Co. of Corunna, Michigan. -- Postcard photograph. Unknown photographer.


Sawmill Location Furniture Factory
These blueprints from 1930 show the "Log Drag" at the bottom center of the diagram. This was used to move logs from the lake to the sawmill part of the plant, the first step in "From Forest to Furniture."

To people on the outside it seemed as if a log was inserted at one end of the Arcadia Furniture Company plant and out popped a piece of furniture at the other end of the plant. The company’s motto, “From Forest to Furniture,” supported that view, but there was a bit more to it than that. To begin with, someone like John Weldt, the company “woodsman” in the 1930s, would select the logs to use for furniture. Each log would be hauled into the sawmill portion of the plant, where the bark might be removed and the wood cut into boards or veneer, depending on the type of wood and what was needed.



Selecting Logs
Posing on the left is a New York buyer. On the right is Charles Weldt, the “woodsman” for the Arcadia Furniture Company.



Log Rule and Detail

A log rule was used to estimate the board feet included in a log based on log's diameter as measured by the log rule, quality that determined which set of numbers to use, and the log's length.



Furniture Factory Sawmill Workers
On the far left is New York buyer Bill Flusser touring the sawmill. Second from the left is Robert Starke, the president of the Arcadia Furniture Company, who was “proudly showing the plant’s operations to the buyers from N.Y.C.” On the right in front is Maurice St. Pierre. The other people in the photo are not identified. Note the specialized equipment used for handling logs: a large vice attached to a small rail car.

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