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 CLIFT BLOCK

Morning Star, March 24, 1996

Let us begin with some housekeeping sentences this week. A big thank you to Ermetta Pewsey for supplying me with the identities of those pictured in the 1915 National Spring and Wire Company photograph which appeared in the February 25 issue. The identities were listed in an old issue of the Journal of Albion. I have this photograph with identifications on display at the Albion Volunteer Center. Also thank you to an anonymous person who sent me some information that the Thwaites Furniture Company followed the Wire Company in their location circa 1920-30 before Union Steel acquired the property.

If you’ve been in downtown Albion in the past week or so, you probably have noticed that the building which formerly housed Ken’s Restaurant just north of Park’s Drug Store is being remodeled. Years ago, each building went by the family name of the person who erected or owned it, rather than by individual postal numbers. This building was known as the Clift Block. In fact, if you look at the very top of the structure, you will see “Clift Block 1852” in the center. This is one of the very oldest buildings in downtown Albion.

The building was erected by John Clift (1818-1904), a shoemaker by trade, who also engaged in the grocery trade during the Civil War. Mr. Clift was sexton of the local Methodist church, and had a talent of being able to sit a large number of people in a given space (pews) at church. He was married to Sarah Gregory, daughter of Noah Gregory who erected the original Central (Robinson Hall) building at Albion College.

From our Historical Notebook this week we have a real treat. It is one of the oldest downtown photographs of Albion known to exist, from the 1870s. It shows the Clift Block on the left, with an overhang and horse and buggies out front. The sign says “Country Store,” with a banner sign exclaiming, “New Butter & Egg Store.” This particular store was owned by C. B. Bogue. The peaked-roof building where the Secretary of State’s Office now sits appears as the Quinlan Grocery in this photo. Next comes the “banking block,” where Albion’s first bank run by James W. Sheldon was located, and the Peabody Bank on the corner. Notice the 4-story building towering in the distance. This is the Eslow Block, erected in 1869. A fire in 1919 resulted in this being shortened to its present 3-stories.


Clift Block circa 1870

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