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Mattawan, Michigan is in northeast Antwerp Township, in eastern Van Buren County, bordering on Kalamazoo County, in the southwestern portion of the Lower Peninsula.

The chief route through the village is I-94, which runs east-west through the north part of the village, intersecting CR-652 (Main Street). Other routes include CR-364 (Front Avenue) and Red Arrow Highway, just north of the village limits.

Cities and villages within twenty miles of Mattawan include Lawton, Paw Paw, Portage, Schoolcraft, Kalamazoo, Gobles, Lawrence, Marcellus, Decatur, Vicksburg, and Parchment.

The village has its origins in an 1839 federal land grant given to Nathaniel Cheesboro, an attorney for the Michigan Central Railroad. Cheesboro named the MCR station Mattawan, for the New York town by that name, and the townsite was platted as Mattawan by Lyman Lawrence. in 1850.

In 1839, President Van Buren set aside several thousand acres of Van Buren County for settlement, offering land for sale to families, as well as a right-of-way for the railroad. Between 1840 and 1850, the new settlers established a school, and a grocery store was opened. Besides its initial station, the Michigan Central Railroad built a depot and railway shops, the former of which included a telegraph system. Several hotels were opened, and a post office was established.

Between 1850 to 1880, Mattawan served as a lumber shipping port, but the completion of the Chicago and West Michigan Railroad diverted the shipments.

During the village's peak years, from 1869 to 1970, Mattawan had a grain elevator, a farm products dealership, two doctors, stockyards, four general stores, grocery stores, and clothing stores. Six passenger trains made stops at the Mattawan station. Mattawan also prospered as a fruit-growing community, producing grapes and peaches. A juice plant was opened around 1900, and later acquired by Welch's Grape Juice.

Mattawan claims the oldest consolidated school district in the state. Its first brick school was built in 1890, but it was destroyed by fire and rebuilt in 1905. A junior high school building was constructed with W.P.A. funds in 1936 and, since that time, a new grade school, middle school, and high school were completed. Sponsored by the Sunshine Club, a library was opened in 1917.

In the fall of 1943, a POW camp was set up on Main Street, at the place where WPI Research now is, and POWs were put to work at the former Welch's Grape Juice factory in downtown Mattawan.

Although Mattawan had been a named community since the late 1830s, it was not incorporated as a village until 1960.

The focal point of this portion of our guide is on the village of Mattawan, Michigan. Appropriate resources for this category include websites representing the municipal government or any other governmental bodies, businesses, industries, schools, churches, organizations, attractions, or events within the village.


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