The Biron Mill: The White House
By Kris Leonhardt
Continued from previous edition
In 1846, Frances Biron, Sr., purchased the saw mill. He would later rebuild the facility in 1853.
In 1865, Biron built a majestic family home adjacent to the mill. Later dubbed the “White House,” the building was a grand structure that captured the landscape nearly as much as the new mill facility.
The house became the social center of the area, with many using it as a point of reference. Historical references say that people would often travel out of their way to get a look at the property.
The home was built with the most prime white pine of the area. The 3,300 square-foot, two-story structure interior includes several fireplaces, semi-French windows, hardwood floors, and paneled ceilings with floral decoration and ornamental cornicing.
The exterior features numerous gables with scalloped edging, a front porch, and a side porch.
When the house was constructed, there were few homes and businesses in the area. The structure sat on a small hill near the Wisconsin River, which provided a beautiful view. The home was surrounded by elms and gardens adorned the property.
Biron often opened his home to travelers and would rent rooms to mill employees.
Today, the home stands in its original statuesque manner tucked among the looming mill facility.
Local lore suggests that the building has shown signs of a haunting, but walking through the home is reminiscent of a social family atmosphere where success allowed for servants and beauty throughout the home.
Left behind is a lasting sign of the Biron family’s presence, as the name “Laura,” in perfect cursive, is etched in a second story window just off what appears to be the servants’ quarters.
Mary “Laura” Biron was the daughter of Frances Biron, who operated the plant until his death on Sept. 28, 1877.
The property then fell into the hands of executors. In 1888, the mill sawed their last raft of lumber. One year later, in October 1889, Laura passed away as well.
In 1890, the mill property came under the management of Frances’ youngest son, George Severe Biron.
Next week: The Grand Rapids Pulp and Paper company
Author’s note: ND Paper officials are looking for partners to help preserve the Biron Mill home. In appreciation for its historical value and its significance to the mill’s operation, they hope to make it a symbol of what was and continues to be a presence in the community.