Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, May 30, 1999, pg 19
The recent decision of the Albion City Council to name the north drive inside (not north of the park) Victory Park as Veteran’s Way is quite appropriate, considering the history of our largest park. Victory Park was once part of a large parcel of land owned by William H. Brockway (1813-1891). Brockway was an agent for Albion College for nearly 40 years, and was the first Methodist minister licensed in the State of Michigan. Brockway was also quite an entrepreneur, and erected several buildings in downtown Albion, as well as raising subscriptions to build the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad in the 1860s.
Brockway’s property covered what is today Victory Park, as well as Allen Place, Darrow St. etc., and the Albion College Athletic field. In fact, the Brockway estate graciously sold a 13-acre parcel of land to the college for an athletic field, and it was understood that the field would be named after WHB. Two college donors gave $1,000 each however for the purchase of the land and it was named Winter-Lau Field instead, something that irked the Brockway family in future generations.
The portion which is now Victory Park was once known as Brockway’s Woods, and later as Dickie’s Woods when it was inherited by WHB’s son-in-law, Albion College president Dr. Samuel Dickie. As World War I was drawing to a close, local citizens banded together to raise funds to purchase the property for use as a public park as a Memorial to those who had served in the recent conflict. The City of Albion purchased the site in 1919, and Victory Park was born. The name "Victory Park" was chosen in memory of the soldiers who had participated in World War I.
On July 4, 1925 the remaining members of the Grand Army of the Republic (veterans of the Civil War) placed and dedicated a large boulder in the park in memory of their comrades. This boulder which still is located at the site, and its location is quite appropriate now being on Veteran’s Way.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a tranquil 1939 scene of the park, looking southwest from the "Forks." The retaining wall had just been built in the 1930s with funds from the federal WPA project, and large willow trees still graced the banks of the river. As we observe Memorial Day this year, let us remember that our largest park, Victory Park, stands as a memorial to our local Albion veterans.
Victory Park in 1939
All text copyright, 2020 © all rights reserved Frank Passic