Leelanau on Location: Greilickville

Greilickville by Andrew McFarlaneGreilickville today is hard to distinguish from Traverse City. Located just north of Traverse City on the western shore of the Grand Traverse Bay, Greilickville is the fist stop in Leelanau County, and yet it looks like it is still part of Travers City. The only notice that one has passed into Greilickville is a sign attesting to the fact. Greilickville is part of Elmwood Township and escapes the notice of most.

Greilickville was first settled in 1852 when Seth and Albert Norris moved the the area and built a gristmill. In 1858 Seth Norris built a tannery, and in 1864 Albert Norris built a brickyard on 40 acres. Due to the profusion of the Norris family, the village was known as Norristown. In the 1870s Charles Norris built the first grocery store. In the mid 1850s a Bohimian immigrant, Godfrey Greilick built a water-powered sawmill, which soon became one of the most important on the Grand Traverse Bay. In 1862 the Greilicks built a brewery, which soon produced the most favored beer in all of Traverse City. In 1874 James W. Markham bought the brickyard and expanded it. Traverse City was rebuilt from a wooden city to a brick city because of the Markham Brickyard.

On the 17th of January 1879 the Norristown post office was opened. By 1883 Godfrey Greilick’s sawmill produced eight and a half million feet of hardwood lumber in just one year. From 1882 until 1885 Markham bricks were shipped to Traverse City to build the first section of the Northern Michigan State Hospital. The State Hospital was the largest single project with Markham Bricks. At that time the economy of the village consisted of Godfrey Greilick’s sawmill and lumbering, The Markham Brickyard (at what is now Pathfinder School, a K-8 private school), the Greilick’s brewery, and a Seth Norris’ tannery. In 1907 the sawmill was destroyed by a fire and the village began to change from industry to tourism. By that time the village was known as Greilickville. A few years after The Markham Brickyard closed the site was turned into a resort. Steamers would drop guests off at the Greilickville docks.

Today the Traverse Tall Ship Co. picks up passengers at the Greilickville docks. The Great Lakes Children’s Museum is located across the street from the Greilickville docks.

Local area links:
Wikipedia’s Greilickville entry
Greilickville-Elmwood Township Marina
Leelanau on Location

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