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ENGENHO CENTRAL

The sugar cane was the first big tillage in Brazil, having corresponding mills in the States of Pernambuco, Bahia, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. From the Discovery of the country in 1500 to 1600, the sugar cane was the main Brazilian product sold in Europe. The concept of “Engenho” (mill) is a tillage with an annex factory that works with the reaped production. It is also the set of machinery used to prepare the sugar cane derivatives: sugar and alcohol.

This Central Mill is also called Schimdt Plant and its history starts with the purchase, in 1902, of the farm Pocinhos, that belonged to Alexandre Balbo, by Francisco Schimdt – German immigrant knowns as the King of Coffee and owner of a neighbor farm called Vassoural.

Schimdt had decided to enter in the sugar Market in a partnership with the German company Theodor Wille, from Hamburg. Francisco Schimdt was one of the greatest coffee farmers of his time.  Born in 1850 in Germany, he arrived in Brasil still a child and lived until 1924.

Focusing on the sugar exportation, in 1906, Schmidt obtained the perks of tax exemption – granted by a law aproved by the Municipal Court of Ribeirão Preto – for whom invested in other cultures. It was when he built the Central Mill in Sertãozinho and began the industrial activities on the place.

Central Mill’s first machines were fabricated in the United Kingdom and France, between the 1870’s and 1880’s, had been acquired by Schmidt alongside another great farmer of the time, Henrique Dumont Villares, who, in 1898, was the owner of a mill in city of Santa Rosa do Viterbo (SP), the first of the region.


With the abundant sugar production, the Central Mill had major impact in the regional commerce. The sugar produced by Schmidt had the trademark “Crystal” and, by the time, the railway company Cia. Mogiana de Estradas de Ferro had to stretch its rails to the bagging door of the mil. In 1924, the “Colonel” Francisco Schimdt passed away and, in 1961, his heirs sold Vassoural farm to Maurílio Biagi who, in 1964, also acquired the Central Mill and its production rights.

In 1966, Biagi constituted the Companhia Agro Idustrial Engenho Central  (Central Mill’s Agro Industrial Company) which, working with the support of Santa Elisa plant, kept producing sugar and alcohol until the mid 1973, when it put na end on its activities.

Maurílio Biagi passed away in 1978. From then on, Luiz Biagi, Maurílio’s second son – supported by the entire Family, aimed to preserve both the edifications and the Central Mill’s original machinery, already with the intention of creating the museum.

In 2006, the complex was donated by the Biagi Family to the Engenho Central Cultural Institute, institution founded with the objective of taking the Project of implementation of the museum forward, which now has become reality.

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