Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Albion Recorder, March 28, 2002, pgs. 10, 11
It was interesting to learn of the upcoming establishment of a local branch of the Burnham Brook Senior Center in the historic Parker Inn building on Michigan Avenue. The Albion Volunteer Service Center has brochures available about it, along with a sheet that answers various questions.
The Parker Inn was the main hotel of Albion, Michigan for many years. It opened on June 1, 1926, following a successful $175,000 community subscription campaign by the Albion Chamber of Commerce to erect the new structure. The Parker Inn was located on U.S.-12 (now Michigan Avenue) at Monroe Street. It served as a resting place for weary travelers between Detroit and Chicago. Its guests included politicians and dignitaries, as well as the notorious such as Al Capone and members of the Purple Gang.
The Parker Inn was named in honor of Harry B. Parker (1889-1936), local industrialist and community leader. Parker was the manager and vice-president of the Albion Malleable Iron Company. He served on the city hospital board and donated the land upon which the city hall was erected. He gave to numerous charities in town and financially supported many civic projects.
Parker was a major investor in the 1925 subscription drive for the new hotel. When business declined with the onset of the Great Depression and the hotel did not make a profit, Parker assumed several of its financial obligations to help keep it operating.
The four-story hotel (plus basement) was constructed in American colonial style, featuring a spacious porch with four great pillars. It contained 71 rooms, all of which were purposely decorated differently. Rooms were priced at $2 and up. Numerous antique-style chairs, beds, chests of drawers and desks were used for furnishings. A heavy Pullman blanket was placed at the foot of each bed. The private bathrooms were fitted with finished white marble and tile. There were 85 telephones in the building, which had its own main switchboard.
The public dining room on the east side of the building was built to seat 75 persons. The dishes were decorated in the delft blue Mayfair pattern, an old English design of Syracuse china. The glassware utilized a colonial design. The kitchen had a butler’s pantry, a dishwasher that could wash 2,500 dishes per hour, and contraptions such as: a vegetable paring machine, an egg boiler with a timing attachment, and an auxiliary ice box that kept the water in all the drinking fountains throughout the hotel cool at all times.
The grand ballroom on the west side of the hotel served as the place where many events were held in Albion through the years. It measured 60 by 24 feet, with a seating capacity of 225 persons. The floor was terrazzo and was waxed for dancing. Five ornate chandeliers hung from the ceiling. Nearby was a private dining room.
The hotel was originally managed by the Lewis N. Wiggins chain of national hotels. During this time the Parker Inn issued a special hexagon-shaped 25 mm. size aluminum token which was distributed to its guests, good for 10¢ in merchandise. The tokens were used primarily in the restaurant and dining room. A lunch cost 75¢, while an evening dinner was $1.25. Sunday dinner was priced at $1.50.
The Parker Inn went through a series of managment and ownership changes during its lifetime. After Interstate-94 opened in July 1960, business declined dramatically in the following decade and the hotel was closed in 1970. The building was subsequently remodeled into offices and private apartments, and the building was renamed Munger Place. It stands today as one of our local examples of how a functionally obsolete building can be transformed into a useful, taxpaying structure.
From the Archives this week we present a photograph of the aluminum Parker Inn token, and a 1926 picture postcard showing the hotel (center), restaurant (upper left) and private dining room (lower left) where the tokens were redeemed. The lobby fireplace and a typical room are pictured at right. How many of our readers ever spent a night at the Parker Inn Hotel?
Aluminum Parker Inn token
All text copyright, 2014 © all rights reserved Frank Passic