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.


Morning Star, January 23, 2000, pg. 2

This past summer saw the remodeling and repair of numerous historical Albion area homes. It is good to see people putting investment money into their residences, as it provides an attractive image of our community to visitors and residents alike. One such historical home that has seen remodeling, but yet has preserved its historical character is the Nearnberg house at 29680 Albion Road.

This cobblestone home is historically the James Lake residence. A native of New York, Mr. Lake (1797-1867) was one of Albion Township’s pioneers and came here in 1835. He purchased over 200 acres of land on both sides of Albion road east of Newburg Road (called 29˝ Mile Road by the County) from the U.S. government. Here he raised his family, which included his boys that had unusual names: Rovno, Dessoles, Currell, Decoliar, Romondo and Montholon. There are still family descendants in the Duck Lake-Springport area today.

One person who knew James Lake well was Dr. Elmore Palmer (1839-1909), who was born in the old Lake residence. Dr. Palmer, of course, wrote the valuable reference source, "Biographical Sketches" which gives us an eyewitness account of the early history of Albion. Reprints of these sketches are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce.

In his Sketches, Dr. Palmer describes the circumstances surrounding the 1846 construction of the cobblestone house which now sits on the south side of Albion Rd. just past the curve after Newburg Road, when you are heading out. He states (Sketch No. 9):

"In 1846, Mr. Lake displayed another of his peculiarities of his character. He concluded that he needed a larger and better residence on his farm, and it must be entirely different from any other farm house in the county. Without saying anything to anyone, he set his sons and hired man at work picking up all the cobble stone on his place and throwing them together in one huge pile where he was to build his house.

All the neighbors in the surrounding county wondered what Uncle Jim was going to do next. When asked about it, his only reply was, clearing up my land. Still, he kept his own counsel. When he thought he had sufficient cobble stones, Henry Drake, who lived in the township of Concord, and who was a first class stone mason, appeared on the scene and soon there arose above the surface of the earth the foundation of Uncle Jim’s new cobblestone house.

The stones were all as near the same size as could be found. Of these cobbles and only these was the house built. It stands today, and will for generations to come, a solid monument to the memory of James Lake. There is probably not another such dwelling in Southern Michigan, certainly not anywhere in the vicinity of Albion."

From our Historical Notebook this week we present a current photograph of the historic James Lake cobblestone house. Notice how the historic cobblestone character has been preserved in the midst of additions on both sides.

James Lake Cobblestone House


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