The Anderson Brothers Carriage Works
The building was located on the north side of State Street, between Swan Creek and the residence to the east, just across the street west from Cornerstone Community Church. From The Kalamazoo Gazette dated February 26, 1928: “The coming of the automobile meant ruin to Anderson Brothers’ carriage works as it has to “everyone else” the veteran blacksmith says. Except for having owned one for a number of years (he wouldn’t run it), he has had little to do with automobiles. He says he did dismantle some during the war. His chief interest in life other than family has been his shop. Only a third of the great rambling structure is in use now, except for storage, but hundreds of initials carved in walls, painted heads, carved figures of horses and ships give an indication of the importance the structure has had in Colon’s traditions and history.
In one of the upstairs storerooms is a splendid carriage, a treasured relic of the town. It is one of the hundreds built by Anderson Brothers in the last century. E. R. Hill, Colon banker, and his family, used it. The body is high and in front is a double seat, built for the colored driver the Hills had with them for years and for a passenger. This passenger often was a child of the family, who was strapped securely there in front where he could watch the spirited team. An ornate silver plate on the back of the vehicle bears the name “Anderson Brothers” and Jack today declares it is one of the finest examples of the firm’s work. Two years ago, when the carriage was driven in the homecoming parade, Mrs. Hill and a daughter rode in it.
Racing fast horses on Lower Lake, near Colon was Anderson’s chief support outside of working hours in the 80,s 90’s and a few years of the new century. It was during that time that Anderson Brothers, a firm including Jack and his two brothers, James and Labius, became famous for its racing sulkies and carriages. Products went to cities throughout the United States and a force of 20 men was kept busy at the Colon factory. Jack Anderson was born in Elmira, N. Y., on July 13, 1842. When 13 years of age he began his work as a blacksmith.
The building, with additions built by the Andersons, measures 40 feet by 80 feet and has two stories, connected by a narrow well-worn stairway. Holes in the walls and floors remain; mute evidence of feverish activities of the nineties when belts and wheels drove wood working machinery in a busy plant. At one time there were four large forges, all kept in use at the Anderson shop. Now only one forge is used. But it is a large modern one, with electric power bellows. An old-type hand lever is kept for emergencies.” Jack died in 1930 at the age of 88.