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The City of Parchment
A Short History
The City of Parchment traces its beginnings to the founding of the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Company in 1909.
The Company was started by Jacob Kindleberger in an old sugar beet factory on the bank of the Kalamazoo River a few miles north of Kalamazoo. The company made parchment paper and hence the City’s name of Parchment.
The company’s first employees lived in tents near the mill or commuted in riverboats back and forth from Kalamazoo. Others rented rooms from farmers.
As the Company grew, the community grew around it. In 1915 the Company built six houses along Riverview Drive; later eight more were built. Plats were laid out and the City’s first street, “Oak Grove,” was built.
Mr. Kindleberger and a committee of citizens worked out a plan for a model village. In 1930 the population in the mill area had grown to 511 residents. That year an election was held and the Village of Parchment was carved out of the northern part of Kalamazoo Township.
Under the guidance of Jacob Kindleberger, the mill, and the Village Commission, great progress was made. New streets were built, sewer pipes layed, signals installed and a business district formed. Taxes were low as the mill still bore the greatest part of the expenses for municipal services such as police, fire, streets, water, sewer, and park maintenance. When the mill was idled by adverse economic conditions such as the depression of the 1930s, Mr. Kindleberger would put the employees to work on town improvements ensuring that everyone earned enough to feed their families.
By a vote of 183 “yes” to 1 “no” the citizens of the Village of Parchment voted to become a 5th class city in 1939.
The City of Parchment has a population of 1926 people based on the 2020 Census.
Do you have Parchment history that you’d like to share?
Please contact us at (269) 343-7747.
The library is collecting items that connect to the history of Parchment, Michigan. These can include documents, photos, scrapbooks, oral histories, film (any format), KVP products, and anything related to the Kalamazoo Vegetable Parchment Company.
If you don’t wish to permanently donate your item, please bring it in so that we can copy or photograph it.