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.

THE GEORGE T. BULLEN COMPANY

Morning Star, February 10, 2019, pg. 10

The building which last housed Sanders Furniture in Albion at 315 S. Superior St. was historically named the Brockway Block. It was named after a prominent 19th century Albion College financial agent Rev. William H. Brockway (1813-1891), who also helped bring the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad to town. The land he owned is now Victory Park, and the Albion College athletic field.

It was in October, 1903 that Parma-native and Albion dry goods merchant George T. Bullen (1867-1933) purchased the building. After remodeling it during the winter months, Bullen's Big Busy Store opened here in March, 1904. This multi-floor business became very popular and attracted shoppers from all around southern Michigan. All four floors (includes the basement) were utilized, each measuring 115 x 45 feet.

Bullen's Big Busy Store carried all sorts of merchandize, including clothing, household furnishings, kitchenware, and other every-day items a person might use and wear around the home. It even produced its own Albion picture postcards, some which have been reproduced in this column through the years.

In February 1920, George incorporated his business as the "George T. Bullen Company" to the amount of $50,000, with shares purchased by his son Donald, and Fred A. Richey. A massive renovation of the store soon commenced. One major change was the addition of "kellastone" (stucco) to the outside of the brick structure, applied by local plasters, Trine & Sons, (Lewis, Clarence, Clyde, Dayton, Floyd, and Leon) from October 31 to December 13, 1921.

George retired in 1928, leaving the operations of the store in the hands of two of his sons, Donald (1893-1966) and Ralph (1899-1974). Following their father's death, the brothers made the decision to close the store in early 1934. Donald quickly opened up his own dry goods and ready-to-wear store at 311 S. Superior St. in May 1934; he operated this until July, 1951. The Brockway Block quickly became the home of the A & P Grocery in 1934 and was located here until the A & P Supermarket opened on S. Eaton St. in November, 1954. It then became the home of Gambles carpet, appliance, and variety store from the 1950s to 1980s.

During the closing sale of the George T. Bullen Company in 1934, the signage in front of the building was changed to read: "Closing Our Doors Forever. The Geo. T. Bullen Co. Quitting Business. Sale Now Going On." Signs on the glass windows read, "Help! We Quit," "We Soon Fade Out of the Picture," and "So Long, Albion!" From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the closing of Bullen's. What a way to go! With all of the money being invested in downtown Albion today, I'd like to see signs posted in downtown windows which would read something like: "Soon Opening Our Doors Again for You!"

Today, the Brockway Block awaits a complete transformation as part of the incredible makeover being made in downtown Albion. What will it become? Stay tuned.


Bullens closing, 1934

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