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, December 24, 2000, pg. 6

A special thanks to all of you who have helped find old Albion City directories, school yearbooks, plat/atlas books, Albion postcards and other items for my Albion history archives which I use for research in the preparation of these articles. Recently Joan Bilicke found for me a copy of the 1894 booklet, "Souvenir of the City of Albion, Michigan" by James H. Field, which is a wonderful pictorial snapshot of our community from over 100 years ago. Field was a member of Albion College Class of 1896, and the book was published by the Albertype Company in New York.

The photos in this book are classics and have been reprinted numerous times in various books and publications such as the Journal of Albion. In addition to photographs of downtown buildings, the book illustrates numerous Victorian-era houses which once stood in Albion, some now long demolished. For those that remain, the book is an excellent reference as to how houses originally looked. No vinyl siding, aluminum windows, particle board, or cement steps back then. The embellishments or "gingerbread" pictured on the houses are dazzling. There is no comparing the quality with how some of those same houses look today.

Of interest to our readers is the introduction to the book which gives a history and description of our town. Upon reading it, youíll notice the upbeat, thriving condition of our community. Unfortunately, thereís not enough room to print the entire discourse here, so let us at least enjoy some excerpts this week here in our Historical Notebook (The full text will soon be placed on our internet site, www.albionmich.com. Click on the Albion History Directory and choose your options.) [NOTE: The full text has been included below in this internet version].

"Albion. Beautiful, healthful, industrial, educational. Albion--city of factories, schools, churches, and happy homes! The history of Albion dates back to a single log cabin in 1831 [sic-1833]. The first frame house--still standing--was built in 1835. The following summer, the town was platted. In 1844, July 4th, the M.C.R.R. was opened, insuring the permanency of the town. A village charter was obtained in 1855, and a city charter in 1885. From the first, Albion has had a constant, healthy and substantial growth; she now has an area of four square miles, an amassed valuation of about $2,000,000 and about 6,000 people, mostly of English descent, the remainder--with few exceptions, being Irish and German.

Albion is situated on the Kalamazoo River, in the midst of a splendid farming region in Calhoun county, Southern Michigan, 95 miles west of Detroit and 189 miles est of Chicago on the main line of the Michigan Central and the Lansing Branch of the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railroads; two well managed roads connecting with all trunk lines East, West, and South.

Two deep artesian wells, centrally located, furnish the water for the cityís splendid system of water works. The healthfulness of this water is shown in the fact that not a case of Typhoid Fever has occurred in the families of those using it. Scarlet Fever and Diphtheria are exceptionally rare in this city.

"The city is well lighted by electricity, and has a well organized and fully equipped fire department. Not afraid of smoke, the city has encouraged factories till she has several of the best and most important in the state. Among these are the Gale Works, manufacturers of plows, drags, cultivators, rakes, etc.; The Elmís Buggy Co., manufacturers of buggies, carts, surries, etc. The Albion Malleable Iron Co., manufacturers of all kinds of malleable and brass castings, patterns a specialty; The Gray Iron and Brass Works, manufacturers of the patent compound lever moulding machine, Gray iron and brass castings, hardware specialties, etc. Others are the Albion Milling Co., The Union Wind Mill Co., the J. W. Brant Medicine Co., and the Rousseau Harness Co.

It is said by traveling salesmen that Albion does more business than any other city of equal size to which they go.

Albion has six newspapers: The Evening Echo, a daily. The Recorder and the Mirror, weeklies. The Household Treasury, a monthly; the Pleiad and the Boomerang, college papers. Albion has the free delivery mail service.

Albionís religious interests are guarded by the six churches whose buildings are shown in this book, and her fraternal by more than a score of the best known secret societies that have lodges here.

Three blocks east from Superior Street, on Michigan Avenue, stands the fine High School Building, costing with the four ward buildings located in the cardinal quarters of the city, about $65,000. In these schools over 1,200 pupils have been enrolled this year. Twenty-one regular teachers are employed, also two special teachers--for drawing and music. Four new rooms will be opened in September. Realizing the grave importance attending the results of school life, the twelve grades or years of study are laid out with much care aiming at the training of the pupils faculties, instilling a love for study, forming the best character and preparation for independent thought and investigation. The teachers are selected with special reference to the grade in which they are to instruct. Particularly is this true in the Primary Department, where a peculiar quality of skill is needed. The High School prepares for the University of Michigan as well as for Albion College

"Albion College, founded in 1843 under the direction of the Methodist Episcopal Church, occupies a beautiful site in the eastern part of the city. It is not a Theological Seminary, but a college of Liberal Arts. Connected with the college proper is a Preparatory School, a Commercial School, a School of Painting, and as fine a Musical Conservatory as can be found anywhere in the West. Albion College is modern in method, progressive in principle and thorough in work. No doubt, it is the foremost Christian College in the state. Included among her over 600 students are young people from nearly every State in the Union as well as several from foreign lands. The success of her graduates speaks the merit of Albion College.

Whoever would seek a business location in a thriving city; whoever would seek a beautiful home in a healthy and pleasant city; whoever would seek an education under the most favorable conditions: come. We have room for you! We welcome you!"

From our Historical Notebook we present an 1894 photograph from this booklet of a thriving Albion looking south on N. Superior St. from the Michigan Central Railroad tracks. A very Merry Christmas and thank you to all my readers of this column!

1894 View of N. Superior Street


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