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 MARKET PLACE

Morning Star, January 16, 1994, pg. 4

Several of our readers have commented that they enjoyed the series of articles on the 1890 Bird’s Eye View map of the City of Albion which ran earlier this year. There are numerous old maps of Albion that have been printed through the years. This week we’re going to focus on a specific portion of the March 1, 1908 map drawn by local surveyor Roy Frank Barry (1886-1965). This year there have been significant changes in the Market Place, that area east of Superior Street in downtown Albion. The Maple City Auto Company building was demolished, and the Consumer’s Power Company substation was abandoned. The remaining part of the old “chicken hatchery” complex was torn down, and next year the Cass St. bridge will be torn up.

This map was drawn one week before the big flood of 1908, and has a variety of markings on it designating particular items. An “x” means an electric street light. A small square signifies a mail box. A small circle marks the location of a fire hydrant, and three small lines indicates a numberless house. All other residences and businesses are numbered, however. As you look at this map, follow along as we make some comments.

On E. Erie St. where the Consumer’s power house is, is the numeral “6.” You’ll notice some lines from the middle of E. Erie St., merging together into one line that moves diagonally northwards. This is the interurban tracks, which were placed there in 1903. The Michigan United Railways freight house was located in an old barn-like structure immediately south of where the Maple City Auto Company building sat. In fact, this line was built upon the remains of the old water raceway that ran to the Stone Mill building, now City Bank & Trust Company. The reason the old Consumer’s Power garage is diagonal in the rear today is because the old interurban tracks ran immediately (east) behind it. The tracks ended where the Maple City Auto Company building was later constructed.

The freight house was abandoned by the interurban when it opened its “Taylorville” facility west of Albion, and was acquired by Consumers Power Company. Consumers sold the barn to Maple City Auto Company, which used the old building for storing automobiles before it was demolished. The original interurban passenger station was located on S. Superior St. just west of the freight house, and is shown colored in on this map. It was located adjacent to the north side of the Albion Opera House building. The passenger station was later moved to the Consumer’s Power building on E. Erie St.

Looking further on the map, you’ll see a couple of buildings colored in with the title, “Milling Co.” This was the present-day Albion Elevator on the north, which was moved eastwards across the alley in 1917 to its present-day location; and the old Stone Mill. Notice the railroad track spur that leads from the main Michigan Central Railroad tracks off S. Monroe St., across the Kalamazoo River, to the mills. The track had been laid around the turn of the century to provide commodity freight cars. When the great flood occurred one week after this map was drawn, loaded boxcars were placed on the long span over the river and the two raceways to prevent its destruction. The track was still used by the Albion Elevator Company until around 1940, at which time trucks began servicing the firm. The track was used for the last time in 1946 to serve the Service Caster and Truck Corporation, which rented the present-day Albion Meat Locker building for storage purposes. The bridge gradually deteriorated, and was torn up the first week of December, 1948, along with the tracks. Although it is not labeled, the Eslow Mills factory building (now the site of Albion Meat Locker) is shown just south of the tracks.

To the right on this week’s maps are the City Sheds, which were stalls where the farmers sold their produce. Hence the term, Market Place. Just south of the sheds were the city scales, where farmers who didn’t trust the nearby elevators would have their produce and grain weighed by the impartial city weighmaster. There was a beautiful little park on the site featuring an artesian spring, now the site of Stoffer Plaza.

When the proposed maps of Albion were drawn in the mid-19th century, it was originally intended to have Porter Street go all the way across Superior, across the River, to cross Monroe Street. However, some heated disputes with property owners in the 1850s resulted in buildings on Superior St. being constructed in middle of the street’s intended path, and so the project of finishing the street never saw reality. Buildings in the Market Place, however, still bore an E. Porter St. address, as evidenced by the house with no number located where Thompson’s Brake Service is today, at 202 E. Porter St.

Finally, along Erie St., you’ll notice the label “W.C.T.U. Building.” This was the Women’s Christian Temperance Union Building. Some people don’t like to admit it, but Albion was the national headquarters for the Prohibition Party committee during the 1890s, with none other than Dr. Samuel Dickie (later president of Albion College) as its chairman. The W. C. T. U. building was erected in 1905. The building was later leased to the City of Albion recreation department in 1941 as a community center. It burned however, in December 1944.


* Photo Credit Information Below

Map of Albion, March 1, 1908 (before the flood) Drawn by Roy Frank Barry

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* Photo Credit Information: Images with this code are from the
"Albion Historical Society Collection / Local History Room / Albion Public Library Collection"