Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, July 25, 1993
This week we will tackle the central downtown business district, and northwards. There is alot to cover, so we’ll get right started, by moving “up” each street from the bottom. This view starts at the bottom with the north side of Erie St. beginning at S. Eaton on the far left. One general observation which is quite apparent: look at all of the smokestacks in this illustration! These were the days when Albion was powered by coal, and imagine all the pollution in town!
Moving up Clinton and Eaton Sts., about halfway up by the railroad tracks you’ll see a long building. This was the Michigan Central Rialroad freight house, a massive structure which burned in 1920, and was replaced by a new one, the now vacant “Land of Hobbies” building. North on Clinton St., to the right you can see the old standpipe in the park, which served as Albion’s water tower until the present tower was erected in the early 1960s. The park was called Washington Park in honor of the father of our country, George Washington. Around 1915 it was renamed Crowell Park after Jesse Crowell, “Albion’s Greatest Benefactor.” Of course at the top we see that N. Superior St. ended at Austin, and after that was located the racetrack of Willard Warner.
Let’s start at the bottom again, this time on Superior St. You’ll notice alot of numbers added on this section map. These were merchants who paid to have their stores featured specially, either by number, or by having their names written on the roof of the building in the View. Some also were city-owned landmarks. A key at the bottom of the map (not illustrated here) gives further details. Let’s go through some of these. No. 1. on W. Cass St. This is the city fire station, torn down in 1858. It presently is the parking lot across from the police station. No. 2. Waterworks. On the site of today’s Albion Recycling Center buiding, which is shown illustrated. The round portion in front is the pumping house. No. 3. (which is hard to see) is the standpipe in Crowell Park which we mentioned before. No. 4 is the High School on the site of today’s Washington Gardner structure. Notice the far left wing of the school, the first floor and basement is all the remains today of what you see illustrated, and is currently the band room behind the auditorium area.
The factories in the upper right labeled 14 and 15 were the Albion Manufacturing Company, and Union Wind Mill Company, respectively. The AMC became the Elms Buggy Company, and this is the condemned building which is ready to fall out today, causing N. Berrien St. to be closed at that location.
The Union Windmill Company, was operated by L. J. Wolcott, president of the Homestead Loan and Building Association. It later became the Cook Manufacturing Company, and the Cement Casket Company locations in the early 20th century.
Labeled 17 on our map on the site of today’s Citizen’s Lumber Company, were the Hathaway & Moore Lumber dealers. The firm was eventually sold to Samuel Wilder and Son, and was known as Wilder’s Lumber Yard, and later Citizen’s Lumber. So the Lumber business is 100 years old. Perhaps Citizen’s lumber should have a celebration. Below it (south) across the river was the Red Mill, labeled No. 16 on the map. This mill was purchased 10 years after this drawing was made, by the Commonwealth Power Co., and transformed into an electric generating plant. No. 16 is the Albion Milling Company, presently City Bank & Trust Company building, which was originally Jesse Crowell’s 1845-built Stone Mill. By the way, City Bank will be 100 years old in Albion this September, having been founded in 1893 as the Commercial & Savings Bank. On the north side of the Milling Company is what is today the Albion Elevator, which once stood on Superior St. and was moved back in 1917. The Bohm Theatre now sits on the site.
There are many other sites to discuss on this map, but space does not allow us to continue. Briefly however, here are some more identifications: 18-First National Bank; 19-George W. Maher, Jr. Sash Doors & Blinds; 20-F. W. Schumacher, Groceries & Provisions; 21-R. K. W. VanNuys, Bakery & Confectionery; 22-G. H. Kilian, Furniture and Undertaking (what a combination); 23-Austin & Smith Hardware; 24-H. H. Mann, Wallpaper and Crockery; 25-N. Davis, Groceries & Provisions; 26-George W. Perkins, Coal & Wood; 27-C. L. Farwell, Bakery, Confectionery and Ice-Cream; 28-George F. Bunday, Dry Goods and Carpets; 29-Albion Exchange Bank; 30-T. J. Mack, Harness Maker.
One last comment about this map. In the north portion above the Windmill factory side, is shown Maple St. Just to the right of the word Maple is a clump of trees. If you look closely you will see an Octagon house. This was located where Maple Ridge is today. This was a landmark home for many years until it was demolished apparently in the 1940s. It was one of only 4 or 5 Octagon houses in Albion.
Next week we’ll conclude this 1890 Bird’s Eye View map series with the area around Albion College.
* Photo Credit Information Below
1890 Bird's Eye View of Albion
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic
"Albion Historical Society Collection / Local History Room / Albion Public Library Collection"