Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

History at home


Scott over at his blog Views Infinitum has challenged us to find out a bit about the local history in our own towns. This assignment isn’t due till Wednesday so you still have time to find some history near you and participate!  I’d love to learn more about the towns you all live in!

I admit I don’t know very much about my own town.  I’m not even sure it qualifies as a real town given there’s only a party store, a lawyers office, a garage… and…The Candle Factory!

What?  You don’t have a Candle Factory in your town?  You wonder what one would look like?  Well let’s go visit!

The Candle Factory has been housed since 1960 in a building that was built in the 1830’s as a general store.  It is characteristic of many buildings in Midwestern towns that were founded in the mid-19th century.  You may even have grown up in a town with buildings just like it.  Notice this wall where the bricks don’t quite match the bricks on the front of the building?

That’s evidence of the staying power of history.  A few years ago we had a tornado come through town; it stripped all the bricks from this side of the building.  I talked with the owner of the business today and she said the tornado flew in a side window and out the front, but thankfully didn’t damage the equipment inside.

Want to meet Phoebe and see her candle-making equipment?  Well come on in!

Phoebe and her two daughters have owned the business since 2000.  The automated dipping equipment is made out of lumber, bicycle gears and roller skate wheels.

It runs the whole length of the building, moving the wicks high above the main floor, gradually bringing them down to the big pot of hot wax into which they are dipped and then moving them through a hole in the floor into the basement to give them extra cooling time, eventually bringing them around full circle and back up to the ceiling again for another trip to the hot wax.  It looks somewhat medieval, but it’s a marvel that any engineer would find engaging.  Today they were hanging wicks on the equipment getting ready to dip long tapers.

I really enjoyed my visit. I’ve lived here almost twenty years and I’ve never stopped at The Candle Factory.  I promised I’d be back, hopefully to see the equipment in action!

If you like candles and want something truly special, handmade with with love, check out their website. They ship all over the country.  They do special one of a kind candles, hand decorated with whatever you need.  In some families a Candle Factory Christmas candle is an annual holiday tradition.

Think I’ll have to start a tradition too.  Support your local artists, you know?  And if you don’t have a Candle Factory in your town, well come on…support mine!

Thanks Phoebe for showing me your business, sharing it’s history and spending time with me, some stranger with a camera and a need for a story.

It was nice meeting you!


Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

20 thoughts on “History at home

  1. what a cool place and what a cool building, thanks so much for the tour! 😉


  2. What a great story, and what a neat place! Love the awnings.

    I live close to Yankee candle…but their place is HUGE! Nothing quaint and charming like yours. Although I’m sure they must have started with a similar set up.


  3. Grrrreat story. Nothing like a little history to make life interesting.


  4. There IS a candle factory in Traverse City, and it’s been there since the 1970s, at least. Are they related?

    What a great story you put together here! That is such a substantial-looking building, though, that it’s hard to believe there aren’t more like it. Really???


  5. That’s a beautiful candle factory, so neat and cool! Thanks for sharing it with us.
    I wish we had some candle shops or factories here too!


  6. What a great place and how lovely of the owners to let you snoop around!


  7. Wow – what an awesome place and the candle dipping machine is simply amazing. What ingenuity! I would love to see that running and the candles with the flowers on the sides are just gorgeous. You have a hidden treasure right there in your town and I am so glad you found it and showed it to us.


  8. Thank you for the interesting tour of your hometown. There is no candle factory where I live but at the Christmas Market in town you get a great choice of handmade candles. Love your pictures and words.


  9. How fun! Our town has a lot of history, but my schedule between now and Wednesday isn’t going to allow time for pictures and stories. Unless I can find some hidden away somewhere.
    Thank you for the pictorial tour of your candle factory.


  10. Dawn, what a neat take on your Hometown History! Very interesting story about the tornado. Kinda scary… I like that you went inside and talked with Phoebe. That you noticed the bricks. That you showed about the candle-making operation. Really cool!


  11. Dawn,
    Thanks for taking us on a tour of the candle factory. Loved it! Amazing to think the bricks were stripped from the building. Looking forward to reading more here. 🙂
    Thanks for stopping by the fire!


  12. Wow, that is great! It must have been fantastic seeing and learning all that. Thanks for sharing!


  13. What a very cool place!


  14. I will defintely check out their website. Looks like a neat place to visit. Thanks for sharing!


  15. Dawn this is a great post. That Candle Factory was something of an icon when we first moved to Detroit, and I’m glad it’s still chugging along merrily.

    I have a fond memory of a particular yellow rose candle. Oh my.


  16. The candle factory is pretty cool alright! Would have so interesting seeing it all done!


  17. Love the candle factory! I am a candle nut so I would have walked out with a tapper in ever color.


  18. One of the nice things about taking a challenge like Scott’s here – it’s that you yourself discover new sides of your hometown, I had the same experience 🙂


  19. Pingback: Assignment 13 Recap | Views Infinitum

  20. I saw how candles are made recently so this is interesting to see a candle factory, thanks for sharing.


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