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.


Morning Star, April 7, 2013 pg. 5

With all of the talk about opening a charter school in the news recently, how about reopening Washington Gardner High School for that task? For the record, that idea was formulated at 7:30 am in the barber chair on March 29 at the Top Notch Barber Shop at 402 N. Superior St. Albion College could get involved (since they own now own the building) and that would save our historical landmark we all paid tax dollars for to upgrade and are still paying for. Anyway, stay tuned, as it will be an interesting summer for our school board indeed.

Albion has had several brochures printed up over the years promoting our community. These give a friendly history of our town, photographs of some of our institutions, landmarks and factories, and other interesting scenes. For the most part these were produced either by the City of Albion itself, or by the Chamber of Commerce.

Recently however I came across another brochure about Albion that I hadn’t known about before. It is a 1940 Automobile Club of Michigan (AAA) brochure, published as part of a series of brochure featuring the 29 Michigan cities AAA had local offices in. It is interesting of course to read what our town was "all about" in 1940. It was written by "The old AAA Traveler." There are the usual things you would expect in such a brochure, such as history of our town (some of the dates are wrong), a history of Albion College, and photographs of various features. There are also some observations of the "Albion of today." Here are some excerpts:

"And the Albion of today? Well, Albion is, first of all, a city of beauty, and through the years the giant elms have grown taller and taller…thousands of elms have been planted, handsome homes have been built…gardens have been transformed into areas of loveliness…for Albionians love their town with an almost fanatical devotion and they show it in the care they lavish on their possessions.

Today Albion ranks high among Michigan’s industrial towns, but it will always be as an educational center that Albion will be best known, for since the very beginning the town has dedicated itself to education. As early as 1833 there was a school in Jacob DeFoe’s barn, and a paid master hammered the three Rs into the young of the village.

Old Riverside Cemetery is an entrancing place to spend an hour, for in the weather-beaten headstones there are history and romance and just a bit of pathos. Those early settlers were stout-hearted folk and in their tombstones you’ll find not a little of that early history written in epitaph form.

There’s ample accommodation in Albion, hotels and tourist homes, camping spots, modern and delightful restaurants, motion picture theaters, well-stocked department and specialty stores, a branch of the Automobile Club of Michigan to help you solve your problems. In a word, whatever you might expect in the modern town you’ll find in Albion, and, above all, you’ll find the Albionian a friendly host, happy that you are seeing his town, anxious to make your stay pleasant.

Here in Michigan is the largest AAA club in America. Here in Albion is one of the most active divisions of this great Club, a division that has tripled its size in the last three years. Hundreds and hundreds of the better motorists of Albion belong, and wherever these members drive the Auto Club goes along."

It would be great to print such a brochure again, wouldn’t it? At that time the local AAA was located at 403 S. Superior St. The brochure also briefly mentions other communities within our radius covered by the Albion division of AAA, and even pictures the castle at Wilder Creek near Marshall, then newly developed.

From our Historical Notebook we present the cover of that brochure, which features the Observatory at Albion College. How many of our readers remember seeing this brochure before?

Circa 1940 AAA brochure, which features the Observatory at Albion College


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