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 CHICKEN HATCHERY

Morning Star, August 8, 1993, pg. 7

The chicken hatchery is gone. The remains of what was once a chirping business in Albion during the early 20th century at 119 Market Place just north of the Albion Elevator, was demolished on Saturday, July 24. The unsightly building had been used for storage for two decades, and was only a shell of its original size.

The cement block structure in the Market Place was erected around 1920 on the west bank of the Consumers Power Company millrace, which ended just north of the building as it flowed back into the main river at Cass Street. The angle of the water created a triangle effect, which is why the east portion of the building was triangular in shape. The building was originally used as a blacksmith shop, operated by Leon Barney. The Chain Dairies was located here in the 1920s, and was succeeded by the GEM Dairy in the 1930s

In November of 1926, Harold M. Baker of Toledo, Ohio, and Robert H. Fiss purchased property here and erected an addition to the building for use as a hatchery next to the dairy. Baker had been employed by the Wochholz & Gress grocery just to the west of the hatchery, where the restaurant on the corner of Cass and Superior now operates. The contractor which built the new addition was Samuel Wilder & Son, which was succeeded by the present-day Citizens Lumber Company.

The firm was called the Albion Hatchery, and boasted a capacity sufficient to turn out 94,000 chicks. The business purchased two 47,000 egg capacity Smith incubators, and the first chicks were ready for sale in February, 1927. Following Fiss’ death in 1929, his widow Mimi Fiss continued running the business through the 1930s to the end of World War II.

During the early 1950s, the Arrow Welding Company was located here, which was owned by Robert H. Taylor. The Albion Elevator then purchased the structure. The east portion of the building was eventually demolished, as was the northern portion. The millrace was filled in during the summer of 1954.

When the former millrace area was developed into a parking lot, the building appeared as an island in a sea of asphalt. Attempts were made at various times to disguise the vicinity of the building by planting flowers and trees, but when the building suffered a major fire several years ago, the windows were boarded up, and the appearance of the structure created an eyesore in the area. The building’s recent demolition will mean additional parking spaces in the Market Place just behind downtown Albion. But many older Albion residents still recall the days when the Albion Hatchery was located there.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the old Albion Hatchery building, taken only a few weeks before its demolition.


The old Albion Hatchery Building

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