Historical Albion Michigan
By Frank Passic

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Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.

DUTCH ELM DISEASE

Morning Star, July 30, 2000, pg. 6

We all know that Albion boasts being a "Tree City USA" and have trees of all sorts of species found here. One type you won’t readily see however is one which historically was one of the most prominent of all in our history--the Dutch Elm. These magnificent trees once lined the streets of Albion, providing massive shade throughout out city and contributing to the character to our community.

These trees were very tall and were specifically mentioned in historical records. One account speaks of boys climbing up the elm trees which lined downtown Albion in the 19th century to view through the windows (for free) the latest performance at the Albion Opera House. Numerous old postcards of the early 20th century would picture these trees in front of various businesses or houses.

As the Dutch Elm disease moved across the country in the 1950s, it reached Albion and by the early 1960s nearly every tree was affected. One by one, our trees succumbed to the disease over the following decade and had to be removed. Although there were attempts to plant "resistant" elm trees, none attained the stature and foliage of the "originals." Today Dutch Elm trees are rare in Albion.

From our Historical Notebook we present a 1920s postcard photograph of the Albion Post Office, showing some prominent Dutch Elm trees on the Michigan Avenue side. Notice their massive height. How many of our readers remember the Dutch Elm trees on their street?

As long as we are featuring a photo of the post office, our readers might like to know that the building was constructed in 1916-17 under the supervision of Lowell W. Baker (1869-1933), who at the time was the only black person to hold the rank of government consulting engineer. Baker lived in downtown Albion above a store during the construction period.

Baker supervised the construction of numerous government buildings across the U.S., but was killed in 1933 in Terre Haute, Indiana after falling from the roof of the new Federal building being erected there. Perhaps it would be fitting to obtain a photograph of Mr. Baker from the U.S. National Archives and place it on display in our local Post Office. Would anyone like to take on this project?


Albion Post Office with Elm trees

Next: ALBION 100 YEARS AGO, AUGUST 1900


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