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.

1866 BIRDíS EYE VIEW PROVIDES CLUE TO HISTORY

Morning Star, January 20, 2013, pg. 3

Have you ever wondered how old your house is? Have you ever wondered who lived in your house 150 years ago if it existed back then? Albion still has a number of houses that date back to the Civil War era. These are historical gems of our community. Is yours one of them? If so, it would have been included in the 1866 "Birdís Eye View" drawing of our community prepared by the celebrated artist Albert Ruger (1828-1899). The original print measures 30 by 24 inches, and was printed by the Chicago Lithographing Company. Some original copies are still known to exist, but inexpensive reprint copies are readily available today, even on E-bay.

This Birdís Eye View shows a growing, expanding and vibrant Albion, as seen from an aerial view. No, Ruger didnít fly over and take a photograph from an airplane, nor was it from a balloon. Rather, he utilized an artistic method that was popular in those days by providing an imaginary aerial view but drawing it from the ground.

The overall view mostly covers the area east of Eaton St., eastwards to just past Albion College. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a portion of the View, showing how downtown Albion appeared. Several of our present-day downtown buildings were in existence back then. On the right is the three-story stone mill Jesse Crowell, now the same building which houses Citizenís Bank. The structure was remodeled in 1916 into the bank, which resulted in the top floor being removed. The small building in the lower right was Crowellís business office, the present-day site of Fedco.

Across the street from the Crowell mill is the Howard Hall building, erected in 1857. This building is still there today, just south of the Subway Sandwich building. The corner building was the Hannahs Block, but it burned in 1867. The Albion Union Herald newspaper and the Comstock Brothers Druggists and Grocers were located in that building.

In the foreground is W. Porter St. The building in the center of the block is still there today. It was the Hannahís Exchange and Banking Office, Albionís first bank. It subsequently became the Albion Exchange Bank operated by James W. Sheldon, and then finally the Albion State Bank in 1895, which closed in 1931. W. Porter and W. Center Sts. once contained houses, many of which were demolished by the 1950s as merchants expanded their parking areas. They can be easily seen on this drawing.

Years ago, yours truly prepared a block-by-block dissection of the 1866 Birdís Eye View of Albion in a comprehensive guide, listing the owners of each house as listed in the 1868-69 Village directory, and comparisons with the 1859, 1871 and 1873 maps of the community. If this would interest you, Iíve still got copies available. Contact me at (517) 629-5402 or E-mail Albionfp@hotmail.com for further information. Is your house or building included in the 1866 Birdís Eye View of Albion?


1866 Birdís Eye View of Albion

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