Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, March 29, 2015, pg. 22
With the good news about the revitalization of the large building at 101 N. Superior St. in the local news recently, it would be good here to give our readers a history about the origins of this building. The name of this building is the Parker-Kessler Block. It was constructed in 1900 and named for Warren Scott Kessler (1845-1933) and Harry Beebe Parker (1889-1936). Kessler was the founder of the Albion Malleable Iron Company and Parker was his step-son. This was the site of the original Albion Malleable Iron Company when it was organized in 1889; it stayed here until 1897 when it moved to N. Albion St. The building that had sat here before 1900 was originally the Gale Manufacturing Company, which moved out in 1885 and settled on N. Albion St. Years later the back part of the property along W. Cass St. became the site of Albion’s City Hall.
After the Malleable moved out off the property in 1897, their building was demolished and this brand new Parker-Kessler Block was erected in 1900. The corner entrance became Albion’s Post Office until a new one was erected in 1916-17. The building was well designed and contained room for several merchants, and upstairs activities and offices. During the Great Flood of 1908 some portions over the raging waters of the Kalamazoo River collapsed, but these were replaced. Many remember this building as the home of Bishop Furniture, which moved here in December, 1936. There’s a lot more to the history of this building, but we’ll cover that in a subsequent article.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a 1930s era photograph of the Parker-Kessler Block. This was during the Great Depression during a downturn in business and it looks like the stores are empty (much like today) because there are no signs on top. The message in the main window states, "Better Housing Show, Albion." Notice how each section was designed to house a separate merchant.
On the very far right in the section with the awning (109 N. Superior St.) is the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company. Yes, A & P. Albion once had TWO (2) A & P’s downtown at the same time! This photo proves it. The bigger one of course was at 315-317 S. Superior St. and was located there until the one on S. Eaton St. opened in 1954. Take a look at the 1934 Albion City Directory and you’ll see both listed.
We wish success in this new revitalization effort for this building and others downtown.
1930s era photograph of the Parker-Kessler Block
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic