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.

AN OLD POSTCARD DOWNTOWN SCENE

Morning Star, June 8, 2008, pg. 4

This week I’d like to feature an unusual postcard view of historic downtown Albion. It’s a scene that you won’t find in other postcards. If you have viewed old Albion postcards, you usually see photographs of the “big” prominent buildings, such as the Stone Mill, Bullen’s Big Busy Store, and maybe even the Sheldon or Peabody blocks. There are also numerous “on the corner” photographs looking straight down the middle of the street.

Our scene this week was taken in 1911. It shows the 201 block of the east side of S. Superior St. between the Stone Mill and the Opera House buildings. This is a rare “head-on” photograph at a slight angle, showing the names of the business establishments. I’ve used my loupe to bring out some minute details on this card, which I will describe to our readers. Starting on the far left looms the Stone Mill. Next is a small building with a 203 address. This was the original home of the jewelry store of Byron D. Robinson, who by the way was the uncle of Gwen Dew. His name “B.D. Robinson” can be found on the end of the awning. Next door at 205 is the competition, William Steel jewelry, whose name is painted on the front window. These two aforementioned buildings have long since been demolished, and today make up the alley next to Citizen’s Bank.

The store with the awning out is Frost’s Shoe Store, with “R. J. Frost” on the end. This was a long-time Albion business establishment which was in existence beginning in 1868 until 1960. Today this is the site of the beauty shop. Following that at 209 is the Ideal Barber Shop, operated by M. B. Crippen. Our readers will recognize this as the home of Tuchtenhagen jewelers and Gordon Pahl Jewelers in the mid and late 20th century. Notice the barber pole in front of the store.

In front by the telephone pole is a small iron fence. This was the location of an artesian well (spring) where residents could drink from a “community cup” to refresh their thirst. Today this is the site of a regular drinking fountain.

Next at 211 is the only known photograph of the Albion National Bank, which was in existence from 1905 until January 1, 1912. This was previously the First National Bank of Albion whose 20-year charter expired in 1905 and was reorganized as the ANB, a common regulatory procedure at the time. There exists a 1907 triple fold-out panoramic view issued by Bullen’s Big Busy Store showing this location, but the old sign “First National Bank” still remained on the awning. A close-up look with the loupe on this card however, shows the name “Albion National Bank” painted on both windows. Upstairs was the office of physician Dr. E.L. Parmeter.

This bank failed on January 1, 1912 on account of a scandalous forgery scheme instituted by the bank’s cashier, Henry Montgomery Dearing and his son, Palmer M. Dearing. Following the failure of the bank, this location became the Frank Graves shoe store. Today this is the left (north) side of now-closed Fedco.

Finally, partially shown is Mitchell’s Confectionary at 213, presently the right (south) half of Fedco.


1911 Postcard View of Historic Downtown Albion, the 201 block of South Superior Street

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