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.

GEORGE BENNARD MUSIC COMPANY

Morning Star, April 10, 2011, pg. 11

My 2002 book "Albion in the 20th Century" is now out-of-print, and the remaining few copies are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce. Mark Saturday, May 7 at 8 am. on your calendars. Thatís when the American Legion will be leading volunteer helpers to place flags on the graves of veterans at Riverside Cemetery. Itís a ritual that has occurred here in Albion ever since the late 19th century. You donít have to be a veteran to participate. Meet at the cemetery office for group assignments. Come and help be a part of this important annual community project.

As we enter the Easter season, we continue with our topic about what businesses were once housed in the historic Commercial Hotel building at 106-108 W. Porter St. Most of our readers know that the great hymn, "The Old Rugged Cross" was written here in Albion in December, 1912 by evangelist Rev. George Bennard (1873-1958) at the Delos Fall house on E. Michigan Avenue. We have previously written about that in this column, and those articles are republished on the www.albionmich.com website.

Did you know however, that Rev. Bennard operated his gospel music printing company and tract society here in Albion for many years in the building which now houses the Moose Lodge? It was the Bennard Music Company, located at 108 W. Porter St. It operated in the back of the Art Craft Press during the 1930s and into the 1940s. This would be on the west half of the first floor.

George lived with his wife Araminta at 1104 E. Porter St. in the vicinity of Albion College. Iíve been told that Rev. Bennard would walk to work each day from his home by all the way to his office on W. Porter St. In later years he also had a "western address" during certain months at Hermosa Beach, California.

I own three Bennard songbooks, all printed in Albion (my guess is right there at the Art Craft Press) with song copyrights ranging from 1912 to 1942 of those that Bennard wrote himself. Bennard was quite an entrepreneur. In looking through these songbooks, the back pages always listed items he had for sale. For example, you could purchase Old Rugged Cross bookmarks. The description states: "The entire four verses and chorus neatly printed on silk ribbon 9 x 3 inches. Varied colors. 25c. each." He wrote a book entitled, "Would You Believe It?" The description states, "The story of the Old Rugged Cross is out at last. It is by the author, Rev. George Bennard, and gives data on how it came to be written, some striking incidents resulting from its use in churches, over radio, in hospitals, missions, tabernacle, prison and outdoor services. Attractively bound in leatherette with Cross on front cover, and stamped with gold. Price $1.00."

From our Historical Notebook this week we present the inside title page of "Bennardís Melodies," seventh edition. The original price was 75 cents. Notice in bold print at the bottom it states, "Published by The Bennard Music Co. 108 West Porter St., Albion, Michigan." Today of course, this is the location of the Moose Lodge.


The inside title page of "Bennardís Melodies," seventh edition

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