Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, October 23, 2005, pg. 19
It’s hard to imagine that every business on the north side of the 600 block of Austin Avenue is now closed, a victim of the population, economic, and zoning/legal changes through the years. The last place to remain open was Adkin’s Lounge (formerly Tomchak’s Tavern), which closed its doors in January, 2004. Even the parking lane that was kept in front of the stores so that customers could park their cars and come, could not bring in enough business. Now these buildings sit vacant and boarded up, awaiting an unknown fate.
This block was once bustling with activity in the early 20th century, as it served the immigrant population in the so-called “Foreign Settlement,” who worked at the nearby Albion Malleable Iron Company. These were the businesses of European immigrants and African-Americans on the “west end” of town. Many Albion residents have memories of growing up in this area, and can name “what-was-where” building-by-building along this block. I am still looking for a photograph of the Star Bakery (later the Vienna Bakery). Does anyone have one?
This week we’d like to feature one memorable business along this block, Pavluchik’s Grocery at 606-608 Austin Avenue. Albion was once dotted with neighborhood family-run grocery stores throughout town. Pavluchik’s was not only a place to purchase groceries, but also dry goods such as shoes or household goods, thus saving a trip downtown. The store operated during the 1930s when money and employment was scarce. The family lived in their house behind the store, and also had rented quarters upstairs to help bring in needed income.
John Pavluchik (1888-1970) came to the U.S. in 1903 from his native Grodno, White Russia. He married Harriet Sedaruk (1886-1946) in Massachusetts in 1909. She was also originally from White Russia. The family came to Albion in 1920. John worked at the Albion Malleable Iron Company from 1921 until 1942, at which time he commenced working for Union Steel Products during World War II before retiring in 1946. Harriet would normally run the grocery and John would assist when he wasn’t working at the Malleable. The couple had three children, Mary, Helen, and Nicholas. Nicholas was the first person from Albion killed in the service in World War II. He died action in Italy on February 8, 1944.
Let us review the various businesses that were once located in the Pavluchik building. In the late 1930s, the Pavluchik’s closed their store and first rented it as a pool hall. The 1939 City Directory lists it as the site of the George Wright Recreation; in 1941 it is listed as the Masternak Recreation. Moses Union then moved his dry cleaner business into the building during World War II. He continued there several more years until moving into the former Russian Baptist Church building a few doors away in the early 1950s. In addition, the Union Barber Shop was located in the building. This was operated by Theodore Kurtz in the late 1940s.
Demographic changes were already taking place which began to affect the businesses in this block. People were more mobile and could drive to super markets and “name brand” stores instead of shopping locally in their own neighborhood. Post-World War II families moved away from congested apartments into their own subdivisions where they raised their families.
To reflect the changing circumstances, a series of restaurants then operated here. The 1955 City Directory lists the Austin Restaurant operated by Lila and James Green in the building. This became the Westside Grille operated by Herbert Grice in 1958. In 1960 it was known as Maggie’s Luncheon, run by Maggie Womack. The building was again vacant by 1962 until Supers Bar-B-Q restaurant came in 1963. In 1965 it became a beauty parlor, known as the Patterson House of Style, operated by Julia Patterson. It continued at this location through the 1970s. The building has since been vacant.
From our this week we present a photograph of the former Pavluchik Grocery and house at 606-608 Austin Avenue. How many of our readers remember being a customer at one of the businesses that were once located in the Pavluchik building through the years?
The former Pavluchik Grocery and house at 606-608 Austin Avenue
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic