Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, June 20, 2010, pg. 11
Albion now has two prominent closed buildings, both of which have large auditoriums: Washington Gardner High School, and the Bohm Theatre. Recently there was announced another attempt to organize a group to “save” the Bohm Theatre in downtown Albion.
This has not been the first attempt to try and come up with a plan for this landmark. In digging through my archives, I came up with a brochure from the non-profit “Save the Bohm Theatre Association, Inc.” with an address of P.O. Box 958 in Albion. It was established to purchase, preserve, and operate the building as a multi-cultural arts and entertainment venue. It strove to work with established community-based organizations to provide programming ranging from movies, to civic and children’s theater, to conventions, to professional comedy acts and lecture series.
Apparently, the goals of this group were not met. This past winter I was walking past the Bohm and heard a beeping sound through the glass window. I’m guessing it was the alarm for the sump pump in the basement. It is no secret that the Bohm has experienced severe roofing problems in recent years, and water damage trickled into the Thomas T. Lloyd building next door. Bricks are falling down from the back wall in the Market Place alley. What is the present condition of things inside? Who knows what condition the Barton theater organ is in in the “orchestra pit” at the Bohm after the water damage in recent years?
Albion has seen several historical buildings of various sorts restored one-at-a-time to practical use over the years, such as: our railroad depot, the New York Central freight house, the Parker Inn Hotel, and the Mary Sheldon-Ismon house. The latter is still in the process of being restored and funds are still being solicited for that worthwhile project.
Here are my thoughts: Saving the Bohm will mean investing thousands of dollars to fix a number of things. Will it be more than we can financially handle for the benefits we will reap? I hope the new discussions will come up with plans for securing a regular income source to maintain the building after the expensive repairs are made. Otherwise, new efforts will be futile just as the last attempt was. Our readers might remember that the Bohm once had an extra source of rental income. That was from the Camera Shop operated by Robert Morrison which was located in the south part of the building at 201 ½ S. Superior St. That possibility ended with the addition of the handicapped bathroom.
I, too hope the Bohm can be “saved,” whatever that might mean. It’s too big a landmark to ignore. I wish the new organizers wisdom and insight in how to “swing this.” Perhaps they will turn big dreams into a reality. I wonder, however: Will there be a “Save the Washington Gardner High School building” group formed in a few years after some windows there are broken and the boiler breaks down? How many restoration projects can we handle here in Albion? Will these projects be competing against one another? Be sure and express your thoughtful ideas to the new group being formed, as they will need all the help they can get to find some way to “save the Bohm.”
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photo of the yellow promotional button “Save the Bohm Theatre” showing a picture of the marquee in front. How many of our readers remember when the Bohm was just a one-screen theater with a balcony?
Save the Bohm Theatre
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic