Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, August 2, 2016, pg. 3
With the 50th anniversary of the Festival of the Forks coming up next month, we are reminded of the significance that water power had in the founding of our community back in the 1830s. Water power was a main reason that our first settlers located here. Water turned the wheels which ground grain, powered sawmills, and later produced electricity.
There has been talk recently of the condition of Linden Avenue and the old mill race which flows on the eastern side of that narrow, long and dead-end street. The waters flow from "Dutchtown" by the small dam off S. Hannah St., then along Wilson DRIVE (not "Street" as the new street sign at S. Hannah St. erroneously states). It continues along Linden Avenue to the intersection of S. Monroe and E. Porter Sts. where there is a small dam that empties the water back into the main Kalamazoo River by Thompsonís Brakes. Actually, the water used to flow further down to Cass St. to the White Mill where it emptied there, but the race was "amputated" at Monroe/Porter in March, 1965. The White Mill had closed in 1957.
At the intersection of Monroe/Porter Sts. by the dam there once stood the Peabody Mill, also known as the Gothic Mill. It produced flour, and was erected in 1854 by Albionís first settler, P. Tenney Peabody, and George Hannahs, Albionís first banker and Village president. After Tenney died in 1856, the Mill was inherited by his sons David and Walter. The Mill suffered a disastrous fire in 1876 and was demolished. The White Mill was erected on E. Cass St. later that year to replace it.
The account of the fire was written in the official minutes of the Albion Hook & Ladder Company, which operated and maintained the various fire fighting apparatus used when fighting fires. The entry from June 22, 1876 reads: "12:30 this morning, the alarm of fire was given. The Hook & Ladder Co. rushed to the Engine House thence to the "Gothic Mill" which was in flames. All members did their duty and the Company can be credited to a great extent for saving the stone house adjoining the Mill. The wagon and equipment were returned to the Engine House at 3:15 am. All members present except C. Williams. W. T. Reed, E.E. Goodenow, E. S. Atkinson, A. Croning, L. H. Baughman, and Alonzo Silsbee. A.H. Goodenow, Secretary."
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a view of the Peabody/Gothic Mill from the 1867 Birdís Eye View of Albion by Albert Ruger. The Presbyterian Church is shown on the right, across S. Monroe St. The Mill was wedged between the west side of the millrace, and the east side of the main Kalamazoo River. This must have been an elaborate structure, giving it the Gothic name because of the architecture. The large building is the mill itself, while the long building along the raceway was the warehouse. Notice also that E. Porter St. once was extended from Monroe St. across the waters to what is today the Market Place. Today just a foot bridge exists near Thompsonís Brakes. How many of our readers remember the other footbridge which once existed to span the millrace before it was filled in?
A view of the Peabody/Gothic Mill from the 1867 Birdís Eye View of Albion by Albert Ruger.
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic