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.

EARLY ALBION CHURCH HISTORY

Morning Star, October 29, 2000, pg. 11.

Have you noticed the proliferation of new churches being formed in Albion over the past few years, and in all sorts of locations? I counted 51 (fifty-one) different churches listed on the church page in the local paper recently, and there are probably more, too that aren't even listed yet. Hmmmm--that's another topic for discussion at the restaurant table this week. As one college philosophy professor once wrote as the only question on the final exam the word: "Why?", one astute student wrote back "Why Not?" and got the only "A" in class.

Back in Albion's early history, Albion's residents had their choice of only three, then five organized denominations: Methodist (1836), Presbyterian (1837), and Baptist (1837). The Episcopals came in 1840, while the Catholics organized in 1845. The first were the Methodists who began preliminary meetings here in 1833. At the time there was no house of worship, so the first three groups joined together and raised a total of $100 between them for the erection of a meeting place, which was also to be used as Albion's first schoolhouse. The building was built to be large enough to hold religious services.

Albion contractor Wareham Warner built the structure, which became known as the Little Red Schoolhouse. School opened in the fall of 1837. It was a one-story building measuring approximately 20 by 30 feet, and the remaining funds for its erection were obtained by the taxpayers of Albion for a total cost of around $600. The building was located just south of the alleyway on the east side of the 600 block of S. Superior St., which today is the site of a former gas station that has been remodeled into offices.

As planned, church services were held in the Little Red Schoolhouse by the various denominations. Services were rotated, so that by every third Sunday, each denomination would have had its turn. The rotation schedule created problems, especially when the churches began requesting particular Sundays out-of-turn for special events such as communion, visiting bishops, annual meetings, etc. The scheduling conflicts created rifts, and the churches began looking for their own houses of worship.

The Methodists were the first to leave the Little Red Schoolhouse. Apparently members showed up for their First Quarterly Conference on January 19 and 20, 1839, and found the building occupied by another congregation! Local Methodist minister Robert E. Brown wrote in Milestones and Memories (pg. 129) in 1932, "This led the Methodists to build their own meeting house, which was done in record time by volunteer labor, since the services on their next "preaching day" (two weeks later) were held in their own house of worship."

The Presbyterian Church soon followed. The Baptists continued to use the building during the 1840s until they erected their own structure in 1850. The Episcopals also worshipped in the schoolhouse for several years. The Little Red Schoolhouse continued to be used as a school, however, until the fall of 1869 when the South Ward Schoolhouse opened.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1912 photograph of the Little Red Schoolhouse, Albion's first church building.



Little Red Schoolhouse

Next: ALBION 100 YEARS AGO, NOVEMBER 1900


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