Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, July 24, 2016, pg. 3
With the recent announcement that the large building being remodeled at 101 N. Superior St. will be renamed after former Dow Chemical Company CEO John S. Ludington and his wife Dorothy, both graduates of Albion College (1951), we are reminded of the historical heritage of this prominent downtown Albion building.
This is the Parker-Kessler Block, erected in 1900 by the president/owner of the Albion Malleable Iron Company, Warren S. Kessler (1845-1933) and step-son Harry B. Parker (1889-1936) who served as vice-president of the Malleable. If the name Parker sounds familiar, it should. The Parker Inn was named after Harry Parker, and was constructed in 1926 to replace the Hotel Albion. It served Albionís hotel needs for many years.
The Parker-Kessler Block was erected on the site of the original Albion Malleable Iron Company, founded here in 1888. That firm purchased the Gale Manufacturing Company building on this corner, which had just vacated the premises and moved to a new location on N. Albion St. The Malleable operated in the old Gale building from its inception until it moved to N. Albion St. in 1897. Its land covered the entire north side of the Kalamazoo River all the way to N. Clinton St. This includes the site of our City Hall, the land of which was donated to the City for that purpose by Mr. Parker. After the Malleable moved out in 1897, the old Gale building was demolished, and the Parker-Kessler Block was constructed.
The Parker-Kessler Block has served various needs during its existence. The main corner entrance was our U.S. Post Office from 1900 to 1917 when our Post Office on N. Superior St. opened. The second floor has been used as a Masonic Lodge, and housed businesses such as Albion Recreation, the Wingard Bowling Lanes, the WALM radio station, and other enterprises through the years.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a classic photograph of the building taken in the mid-1930s when there was still diagonal parking in downtown Albion. The stores look somewhat vacant, evidence of the Great Depression that was in progress. The main window proclaims "Better Housing Show, Albion." On the far right we see a store with an awning. This is the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company, (A & P) which operated a "north end" store here.
We look forward to the "new look" of this building and its new tenants, as downtown Albion is being transformed building-by-building into a vibrant and attractive downtown historic district. How many of our readers have ever been "upstairs" in this building?
Parker-Kessler Block in the mid 1930s
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic