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.

J.C. PENNEY VISITED ALBION IN 1935

Morning Star, August 5, 2012, pg. 6

Last week's unidentified 50th wedding anniversary couple has been identified as Ernest (1873-1957) and Luella (Clawson) (1882-1972) Deyoe. Special thanks to George Deyoe for identifying his father's aunt and uncle. The Deyoes were married in Marshall on March 1, 1905, making this a 1955 photograph.

Albion once had numerous "big name" national chain stores located in downtown Albion in the early and mid-20th century. One of the most prominent was the J.C. Penney Company. This retail outlet came to Albion in the early 1920s. In 1929 it moved to its long-time location at 301-303 S. Superior St., in the Dalrymple Block. Those locations had formerly been occupied by the Albion Gas Light Company, and Kostianes Brothers Confectionery, respectively. Today this is the site of the Kids 'N Stuff Museum.

The manager of the local Penney's outlet for 20 years from 1925 until 1945 was King G. Cornell (1884-1958) who successfully managed the store through the Great Depression of the 1930s. It was during this time that the great J.C. Penney himself paid a visit to Albion. In addition to his retail and philanthropic abilities, Penney was a noted breeder of Guernsey cattle and thoroughbred Percheron horses. He visited our community on June 12, 1935 to view the herd of Guernseys at the Haven Hills Dairy Farm, owned by the family of the late George Dean. That dairy supplied milk to the Albion area for many years. The fact that Mr. Penney would have made a special visit to see the Haven Hills cattle is an indication of the fine reputation our local dairy had.

While here, Mr. Penney visited the Albion store and met its employees. Also known as a noted counselor of youth and featured speaker at youth events, Penney gave some advice to the youth of our community. He said, "If I had a message for the youth of the country, it would be that prestige is not necessary for success, perseverance and willingness to work being essential."

It was beginning in August, 1954, that the local J.C. Penney store was extensively remodeled. On August 29 of that year, the Capitol City Wrecking Company of Lansing removed the third floor of the building. A $50,000 rejuvenation of the remaining floors ensued, and the new fašade that was built is what many of our readers remember and can still view today. The store closed in 1981, but the fašade remained, and the name "J.C. Penney" can still be found on the front tile walkway into the kid's museum today.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1935 (Albion's Centennial year) photograph courtesy of Rick and Barb Lange. It shows the J. C. Penney store window in Albion filled and overflowing with photographs, and awards won by the Haven Hills cattle. This window display was used to impress Mr. Penney during his visit, and also during Albion's Centennial Celebration. How many of our readers shopped at our local J. C. Penney store?


1935 (Albion's Centennial year) photograph showing the J. C. Penney store window

Next: SUPERIOR ST. DUG UP IN 1954


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