World Renowned “American Stradivarius” of Violins Were Once Made in Battle Creek, MI
When you think about Battle Creek I'm sure "Cereal City" and Kellogg's are one of the first things that come to mind, but what about violin strings? Although I was born and raised in the West Michigan area, I was shocked to learn Battle Creek, MI was once home to the "American Stradivarius" of violin makers.
Sure we know about Kalamazoo's history with Gibson guitars but did you have any idea the world renowned V.C. Squier Company, the predecessor to Fender's Squier guitars, was born right here in Battle Creek? During the 1900s Victor Carol "VC" Squier owned and operated “one of the largest and most complete factories in the country devoted to the manufacture of musical strings” per the Battle Creek Enquirer.
VC Squier was born and raised in Battle Creek. After graduating Battle Creek High School he moved to Boston to study with his father, famed violin maker JB Squier. Upon moving back to Battle Creek VC Squier opened his own "fiddle factory" in 1890 at 427 Capital Ave SW, a building that is now occupied by Wharry Engineering. The VC Squier Company was not only ahead of its time for the unique way they converted a sewing machine to manufacture their strings, but the company was a major employer of women at the time- much like Gibson's "Kalamazoo Gals"!
Squier's violin strings quickly became world famous and highly sought after. In the 1950s Squier became the musical string supplier for Fender guitars and by 1963 Squier was the official original equipment manufacturer for the famous guitar company. The VC Squier Company was eventually acquired by Fender in 1965, though the factory remained open in Battle Creek until closing in 1981. A year later, Fender decided to revive the Squier name and created a new line of guitars which are still available to this day.
VC Squier passed away in 1949 but you can find his final resting place in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Battle Creek. Today Squier violins are highly sought after and the Smithsonian even has the violin of VC's niece Olive in its possession.