Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, June 13, 2004, pg. 2
It’s easy to focus attention on Albion’s now-demolished downtown landmarks while driving through town. After all, the Albion Elevator and the Eslow block were huge edifices that are now missing from the cityscape. But downtown Albion is also made up of smaller buildings which are attached to each other, often obscuring their individual histories.
One such building that has gone unnoticed is the Sweet Block at 104 S. Superior St. No, it wasn’t a candy store, but was a building named after the business owner who had it erected--Harvey Sweet (1851-1933). A native of Des Moines, Iowa, his parents moved to Michigan and the family lived in Albion and in Concord. Sweet made his permanent home in Albion beginning in 1880, and took up the barbering trade. He was first located at 18 S. Superior St., now 110 S. Superior St.
In 1885, Mr. Sweet took up the profession of optometry but concurrently continued his barbering trade (what a combination) until 1916. Harvey moved across the alley to 104 S. Superior St., which was located in the center of a wooden building complex. Also doing business at the site was his wife Ada (Lake) Sweet (1850-1917), who operated her jewelry business there.
The whole wooden complex from the alley north to Cass St. burned in December, 1898. Mr. Sweet thereby erected his own replacement brick building on the site in 1899. The new building measured 15 x 60 feet, with the contractor being William Loder. There he continued his barbering and optometry on the second floor, while his wife’s jewelry business was on the first floor. In the early 1900s his wife discontinued the jewelry business and the first floor became the meat market of John McAuliffe.
Other merchants also erected replacement brick buildings on the block. For the record, the double storefront building next to the alley that once housed the Albion Bakery on the south, and insurance agencies on the north is the Loomis Block. It was erected in 1899 by the heirs of William Loomis. Next in the center is the Sweet Block erected in 1899, and on the corner at Cass St. is the large Perkins Block, erected in 1900.
If you look at the top of the Sweet Block, you’ll see a stone with the engraving, “Harvey Sweet, 1899.” The building eventually did live up to its name: During the 1930s and 1940s it was the location of the “Sugar Bowl” soda fountain/confectionery store.
After 36 years of barbering, and 31 years of optometry, Sweet retired in 1916. His optometry practice was taken over by his assistant, Mrs. Lucy Dean. She continued the second-floor optometry business throughout the 1930s. From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of Harvey Sweet, the namesake of the Sweet Block, 104 S. Superior St., the present site a beauty parlor.
Harvey Sweet, the namesake of the Sweet Block
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All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic