Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Albion Recorder, February 2, 1998, pg. 4
Many older Albion residents remember Albion’s "go-gettingest mayor," Norman H. Wiener (1891-1962), who served as mayor 1931-1944, and 1949-1954. He was known for bringing in Federal funds for various WPA projects during the Great Depression. The Kalamazoo River retaining wall, the Victory Park Band Shell, City Hall, and the 1940 brick Superior Street are examples of the results of his funding successes. But what did Mayor Wiener do for a living?
Mayor Wiener was a native of Neschoiz, Russia, and arrived in the U.S. at New York at the age of 16 on the ship Pennsylvania on December 16, 1907. He first settled in Three Rivers, and also lived a short time in Battle Creek. On his 1909 Declaration of Intention application to become a U.S. citizen, he was living in East Lansing as a student, no doubt at Michigan Agricultural College. Wiener arrived in Albion the following year.
Wiener established a scrap iron and general waste material business here under the name of Albion Iron & Metal Company. He eventually became one of the largest dealers of such material in southern Michigan. One 1925 reference stated, "Mr. Wiener is an exponent of the doctrine of conservation of resources."
The Albion Iron & Metal Company was originally located at 111 N. Clinton St., one block west of downtown Albion. This was on the west side of the street north of the Kalamazoo River, approximately where the "Stitch ‘N Stuff" T-shirt business building is located today at 201 N. Clinton St. Wiener purchased the site in 1912 and erected a new office building there in 1913.
In July 1923 Wiener purchased the Frank E. Nowlin grain elevator building across the street on the southeast corner of N. Clinton and Michigan Sts., and moved his business there. He also ran the N. H. Wiener Coal Company, and at one time employed about 20 men. Wiener was in partnership with D. Richard McAuliffe from 1944 to 1951 in both firms. During this period the company went into the steel brokerage business. It would purchase steel in other communities and have it shipped directly "on site" to an industry needing it. The coal/fuel business was discontinued in the early 1950s.
Beginning in 1952, Wiener was associated with his son-in-law, Victor S. Burstein in the steel brokerage business. Burstein (also another Albion Mayor) became president of the company upon Wiener’s death in 1962. Today the former Albion Iron & Metal Company is the site of Gardner Casters & Wheels, 210 N. Clinton St. The building is called the Wiener Building, and you can see the date of 1910 in front on top. This is the date Wiener came to Albion and founded his company, not the date the building was erected. Historically, Frank Nowlin had purchased the site in 1912, erected his elevator and held a grand opening in May, 1913. The present facade was added in 1954 at the time the adjoining Tom Maker Supermarket was constructed.
This week we present a photograph of Wiener’s original 1913 office building on the west side of N. Clinton St. The sign states, "Norman H. Wiener, Rags, Rugger, Paper, Iron, Hides & Fur." Notice the manufactured gas storage tanks of the Albion Gas Light Company in the background, which were located to the west on N. Eaton St.
After Wiener moved across the street, his former 1913 office building was used by the Albion Bolt Company. It then served as the headquarters for the D. C. Boyd Coal Company during the 1930s and 1940s. During the early 1950s it was the headquarters of Frank Birney’s Albion Truck & Storage Company, a moving firm. The building was demolished in the summer of 1954 to be used as a parking lot for the new Maker IGA Supermarket which opened across the street.
* Photo Credit Information Below
Norman H. Wiener and 1913 Office Building
All text copyright, 2016 © all rights reserved Frank Passic
"Albion Historical Society Collection / Local History Room / Albion Public Library Collection"