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 EGG HOUSE

Morning Star, March 27, 1994, pg. 9

On the southeast corner of S. Eaton and W. Ash Streets is a rather prominent brick house and carriage barn in the rear, with the address of 215 W. Ash St. Because of its appearance, one can tell by looking at these buildings that this is not an ordinary house and barn, but that some special type of business must have been located here before it was turned into a residence. Upon further investigation, I have discovered that this house was once called the “egg house.”

The “egg house” first shows upon the 1890 Bird’s Eye View of Albion by Clemens J. Pauli, as a single structure which had a store-front-type face, and a windmill immediately to the east. The building did not exist in 1885, so we can assume that it was erected in the late 1880s.

The 1894-95 Albion City Directory lists this the site of the business of Bernard Obertries, who operated a produce and egg business in this brick structure. Obertries, who hailed from Parma, lived here in Albion during the 1890s at 115 W. Oak St. His name does not appear in the 1897-98 directory, however.

Following Obertrie’s stint in the egg business, a similar firm was established there by Elmer Jacobs (1869-1953), who lived kitty-corner from the “egg house” in the prominent former-David Peabody home at 303 W. Erie St (torn down in 1966). Jacobs was a prominent Albion businessman for many years, who also served on the volunteer Albion Fire Department. Mr. Jacobs started his egg packing and storage business in the old “egg house” building.

Not wanting to keep all his eggs in one basket, Mr. Jacobs got rid of his chickens, and in October 1902 organized the National Spring and Wire Company here. The firm was a wholesale manufacturer of automobile, carriage, and all kinds of upholstering springs. The National Spring and Wire Company started in the “egg house” with a work force of three men, and remained at this site for two years. Its work force eventually was increased to twenty men, at which time the firm was moved to the former Elms Buggy Company/Albion Buggy Company building, on the west side of Berrien Street, across the street from Union Steel Products.

Following the vacating of the 215 W. Ash St. location by the National Spring and Wire Company, the “egg house” became the home and business of local veterinarian Fred W. Main (1876-1958) who had come to Albion in 1909 to begin his practice at the Eastman livery barns on W. Vine St. Dr. Main moved to the “egg house,” and no doubt kept the horses in the carriage barn in the rear. During the 1920s he moved his practice to more spacious quarters at 900 Irwin Avenue, and remained there until his retirement in 1946. His practice later became the McClure Animal Hospital.

When you drive on S. Eaton St. today at the top of the hill, take a look at the old “egg house” site. It is one rare example in Albion where an industrial site was converted into residential use--and in the same building. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the “egg house.”


The Egg House

Next: ALBION FAIRGROUNDS


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