Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, December 28, 1997, pg. 8
With the recent announcement that the old Union Steel Products main plant between N. Berrien & Huron Sts. will be demolished next year, you might wonder how this residential area of Albion was transformed into an industial stie years ago. Block 15 and surrounding vicinity was originally plateed as residential lots on the north side of th city. A look at old plat maps will readily reveal this.
In 1880 however, the Albion Manufacturing Company was organized and began the production of farm implements. It was located on N. Berrien St., eastwards to N. Huron St., north of the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad tracks. President of the firm was First National Bank president Samuel V. Irwin, and bank vice-president Dr. Willoughby O’Donoughue was secretary-treasurer. E. P. Burrall was the firm’s general agent, while Horatio Gale was superintendent of the plant. In 1882 thie firm did $120,000 worth of business.
The AMC was known for its Spring Tooth Cultivator, and its Daisy Sulky Hay Rake. Later Horatio Gale became its president and superintendent, while E. P. Burrall became the vice-president and manager. The firm employed between 70 and 100 men, and wages were around $1.60 per day. The plant was located on the east side of N. Berrien St., whle the office and lumberyard was located on the west side, north of E. Mulberry St. The firm closed around 1890.
The predecessor of the Elms Buggy Company originated in Jackson in 1879. Its president Frederick L. Elms, purchased and reorganized the company, moved it to Albion in 1890, and purchased the AMC site. Vice-president and superintendent was Augustus J. Gale, treasurer was Charles B. Gale, with H. A. Waldorf as its secretary, It is interesting to note the Gale family members participationin the firm, as their ancestors had been the organizers of the Gale Manufacturing Company, a farm implement company.
The Elms Buggy Company erected new buildings, for a total floor space of about 90,000 square feet. In its final years of operation in the late 1890s, L.J. Wolcott was president, and Mr. Elms was vice-president. The company manufactured a line of carriages, wagons, and carts in the final years before the automotive age. The firm was reorganized as the Albion Buggy Company around the turn of the century and closed after 1901. The Union Steel Screen Company purchased the site in 1908, and the rest is history.
Will the Union Steel site be reverted back to its original residential purpose as platted by Albion’s forefathers? Or will it be transformed into a parking lok, park, playground, or another industrial site? The coming months will be interesting as decisions will have to be made.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present an 1894 drawing of the Elms Buggy Company. This is an artists “enhanced geographic” drawing so don’t take the geography too literally. The street on the left is N. Berrien St. Mulberry St. is not defined. The Lake Shore & Michigan Southern railroad tracks still go past the old Union Steel building today. The company “house” office is on the left. The building with the sign that says “Elms Buggy Co.” is where the City of Albion had cement blocks placed to shore up the collapsing Union Steel building a couple of years ago.
Elms Buggy Company
Next: WILLIAM M. LODER
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic