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.

OLD PHOTO OF DOWNTOWN ALBION WAS TAKEN IN 1870

Albion Recorder, November 10, 1997, pg. 4

What is one of the oldest known photographs of downtown Albion? It is a clear and sharp view of the west side of the 300 block of S. Superior St. that was taken in the early 1870s. This block was a center of commercial activity, as evidenced by the number of horse carriages parked diagonally in front of the stores. During this period, second and third stories were used for apartments or as other businesses. This is in stark contrast to today where the upper stories have been abandoned and the windows boarded up.

This photograph was printed years ago in the Journal of Albion and we are happy to feature it again here. On the left we see the Clift block, one of downtown Albion’s oldest structures. The building has been recently remodeled by Blodgett Construction. The Clift block was erected in 1852 by shoemaker and grocer John Clift (1818-1904). 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. Notice that the large Sheldon Block which presently houses Parks Drug Store is missing. That is because it was not erected until 1872.

There is an overhang over the wooden sidewalk, and signs which state, “Country Store, New Butter and Egg Store.” At this time the grocery was operated by Charles B. Bogue, whose name appears on the side of the building. The sidewalk in front of the store is filled with baskets, barrels, and other items. Next comes a wooden peaked-roof building, then the site of the Quinlan Grocery. A sign above the top window states, “The Cheap Grocery Store.” This particular structure was the last wooden building in downtown Albion, and was torn down during the 1910s. Today it is the site of the Secretary of State office.

The “banking block” is next, containing the James W. Sheldon Banking office, which later became the Albion State Bank. This was Albion’s first bank, first established in 1855 as the Hannahs Exchange and Banking Office. One nickname for the bank was “The bank with the chimes,” which can be easily seen on top of the roof.

Next comes the Wright block, named after James Wright. This corner building contained another grocery, but later served as the headquarters of the Peabody Exchange Bank beginning in 1896.

Across the street is “Albion’s skyscraper,” the Eslow block. This building had four stories, as evidenced by this photograph. A fire in 1919 resulted in this being shortened to its present three stories.


300 block of S. Superior St.

Next: UNION STEEL ORIGINALLY LOCATED JUST WEST OF DOWNTOWN ALBION


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