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, September 25, 2005, pg. 17

We certainly had a fantastic Festival of the Forks this year, with all its improvements and positive changes. A special thanks to those who stopped by my booth to view the historical photographs and historical materials. I am always accepting donations of old Albion High School yearbooks, city directories, postcards and photographs, and other historical material about Albion. My phone number is (517) 629-5402.

One thing I’ve observed in some communities is that they have an old-fashioned looking tourist bus for its events. These are usually red in color with gold trim, and are painted to resemble an old trolley car or train. This might be something to consider for Albion in the future, to transport tourists around town during some of our special events.

This week we are featuring one such “tourist wagon” in Albion’s history. Lewis W. Pryor (1867-1937) operated a second-hand goods and junk yard at 115 E. Michigan Avenue from around 1900 until he retired in 1931. His site subsequently became the Pagoda Restaurant in 1927. Lewis had purchased the business from his original employer, Sheldon & Fanning who had been located on N. Clinton St. The 1903-04 Michigan Gazetteer carries a display ad that states, “Lewis W. Pryor, Wholesale Dealer in Rags, Rubber, Metals, Second-Hand Goods. Furniture Bought and Sold.”

Lewis Pryor was born in Albion the son of William and Lucy (Sanders) Pryor and grew up in Albion. If that name rings a bell, here is a clarification: Lewis’ brother William (1866-1926) was also in the junk business. It was William’s establishment that was located in the Market Place where there were Purple Gang connections in the 1930s.

Lewis Pryor apparently was also in the transportation business in the era when people needed to be transported from the railroad depot to a hotel or particular residence. Recently a picture postcard surfaced showing Pryor’s horse-driven wagon headed south on N. Superior St., full of people. We present that postcard this week here in our . It is surmised that this wagon was also used for various deliveries that he made. The name “L.W. Pryor” is clearly painted on the side.

This particular card never went through the U.S. mails, as there is no stamp nor address on the back. However, a handwritten note on the back states, “This is the wagon we were taken in around the city of Albion. Also the day we had our pictures taken, August 31, 1909. Mother.” There appears to be 12 persons seated in this wagon, plus the two drivers holding the reigns. The group was probably members of the Pettibone family, who converged on Albion that week for a big family reunion and are known to have taken tours together around the city according to a news report.

The date on this photo indicates that it was a taken just over a year after the great Flood of 1908. Here we see that the buildings over the Kalamazoo River on N. Superior St. had not yet been fully rebuilt. In looking at the signs or awnings with a magnifying glass, the first business shown on the left in the Parker-Kessler block states New York Racket Store, which was a clothing establishment. Next comes the William McAuliffe farm implement dealership. Next is shown a steel beam going across the River, meaning that re-construction was being undertaken. On the far, far right in the Hurley Block can be seen the “Boldt Bros. Saloon” sign at the top, which is still there today if you look closely enough at the top of the building. Below is a drawing of an Owl with a cigar in its claws, referring to the Owl Cigars manufactured locally by August J. Baader & Company which were sold there. We wonder if when the Odd Fellows building was constructed next door in 1911 (presently housing Dickerson Music), if this Owl advertisement was left on the wall of the Hurley Block and is still there today.

Pryor’s horse-driven wagon headed south on N. Superior St.


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