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, July 30, 2017, pg. 11

The last brick building on the south end of downtown Albion, 416-420 S. Superior St. is currently being transformed into the Albion Malleable Iron Brewing Company. During the past few decades this structure was the location of businesses such as the Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce, John Sharp Realty, General Store Hardware, and other enterprises. Our older readers may remember that in the early 1960s the Spiegel Catalog Office was located here, and from 1938 to 1959 it was the Albion Theatre.

Did you know however that this brick building was erected around 1890 as a horse livery, and remained as such for many years into the early 20th century? Even prior to its erection, it was the livery site of the father/son team of Ira (1831-1885) and Mark Lambson (1856-1921) at then-76 S. Superior St. from the 1860s onward. The livery complex contained a main wooden structure along Superior St. and several stalls on the south side of that block along Superior and Ash streets. For those unfamiliar with the term livery here in the 21st century, no, they didnít sell liver. A livery was a place where horses were fed, stabled and kept for hire, usually with a carriage provided.

During the 1890s and into the early 1900s, Thomas Power (1854-1924) operated his livery here in the new brick building on the corner. Power then moved his livery business to W. Elm St. and sold his Superior St. location to Edgar L. Thompson (1876-1858) sometime after 1903. Thompson then established his own livery at that location. The 1913 Albion City Directory lists the firm of Thompson & Courtright, Livery, feed and sale stables at 416 S. Superior St. Edgar L. Thompson (1876-1958) was born and grew up on a farm south of Albion, and was engaged in draying when he moved into town in 1900 upon his marriage. Edgarís partner for a short time was Jay Courtright (1865-1928), a local motor oil company manager and operator.

By World War I, the "horseless carriage" was steadily taking over as the prominent means of transportation. Edgar transformed his horse livery into an "Auto Livery," as described in the 1917-18 Directory. It then served as an auto service garage and an auto storage place. Thompson also operated a taxi service there. In the late 1920s he discontinued his auto service and just focused on the taxi service during the 1930s. In 1938 the Albion Theatre took over his building and Thompson is not listed as a taxi driver after the 1937 directory. His obituary states he retired in 1944.

The building Edgar operated in became known as the "Thompson Building," although it was actually used first by Thomas Power. Good quality photographs of this building are hard to find, as photographers would often take a photograph of the big 3-story Peabody Block on the opposite corner, showing the Thompson Block in the distance. In addition, the few photographs taken of the building from the south looking northwards will contain the large trees which blocked the view of the prominent archway which once was located in the front of the building. This was where horses, carriages, and automobiles would be driven into the building.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a rare photograph of the "Thompson Block," surrounded by trees, but showing that arch in the center. It is assumed the arch was removed some time in the late 1930s. However you remember this building, it will soon be transformed into Albionís first brewery called the Albion Malleable Brewing Company.

400 Block S Superior St Thompson Block closeup, as seen in 1911

Next: Albion 100 Years Ago - AUGUST 1917

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