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, April 30, 2000, pg. 13.

The year 2000 marks the 100th anniversary of several downtown Albion buildings. In December, 1898, a fire destroyed several historic wooden structures on the southwest corner of Cass and Superior Sts. all the way to the alley on the south. During 1899 and 1900, new brick buildings were erected on the site which are still standing today.

The building presently housing Gordan Pahl Photographer (108) and Murray-Tymkew Insurance Agency (106) is the William S. Loomis block. It was erected in 1899 by Groff & Herrick builders. For many years the south half housed the popular Albion Bakery. The original occupant however was a grocery story operated by W. H. Rodenbach. A local news item declared in 1899, "these stores will be fitted up with all the modern improvements comprising a complete system of plumbing and lighting. Both gas and electricity will be used. A broad stairway between the two stores leads to the upper story which will be arranged for living rooms and offices." Thus this is an historical example of the original usages in the upper stories of downtown Albion buildings, in direct contrast to todayís local zoning ordinances.

The center building is called the Harvey W. Sweet Block (104) where a tablet is embedded above the second story bearing the name and completion date of 1900. This building was erected by Albion contractor William Loder. Mr. Sweet (1851-1934) was Albionís oldest optometrist, and worked from the second floor; his apartment was also located in the rear. Sweetís assistant was Lucy Dean, who continued the business. Sweet also operated a barber shop from 1880 to 1916. John P. McAuliffe operated a store on the main floor of the building.

The building on the corner (100-102) is known as the George W. Perkins block, erected in 1900. Mr. Perkins was a local merchant and the local representative of the Standard Oil Company. You can still see the cornerstone by the sidewalk today. Construction began in May, 1900. It was the home of Homer Blairís Drug-Book Store for many years, succeeded by Louis Van Gordenís Drugs in 1912, and later Brownridge Drugs.

From our Historical Notebook we present a 1908 postcard photograph looking southwest from photographer Donald M. Bennettís roof in the Doyle Block showing the aforementioned buildings. Iíve looked at this through a magnifying glass and will describe the details here. Notice that most of the downtown buildings had cloth awnings. These bore names on the end which you could read. A striped designed was used on the awnings on the Loomis and Sweet blocks. The awning in front of Blairís Drug Store states, "Boots & Rubbers, Rugs & Hooks." Above Blairís can be seen the painted window sign of the Whitney Photo Studio above 102 S. Superior St. On the side of the building can be seen various signs such as "Postcards," "Drugs and Cigars," and "Drugs and Stationary."

Several horse & buggies can be seen on Superior St. The large overhead telephone poles led to the nearby telephone office. There were also overhead wires that supplied electricity to the Interurban cars. The Interurban tracks can be seen curving towards Cass St. below.

Albion in 1908


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