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, November 13, 2011, pg. 14

We wish Gina Pritchard, Jamie Jones and their crew great success in Gina’s Pizza which just opened, located in the old City Bank & Trust Company building at Five Points. I’ve never seen pizza boxes stored in a bank vault before, until I went to Gina’s Pizza. I encourage our readers to give Gina’s a try.

The 100 block of E. Michigan Avenue was the location of Albion’s first auto dealerships and repair shops. These began as extensions of the horse and buggy liveries that were located here in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Patrons at the nearby Hotel Albion on the corner (present site of the Shell gas station) and the two railroad depots a block or two away provided many customers for these liveries.

At 110 E. Michigan Avenue (present site of the west parking lot of the closed Chinese restaurant) was once located the Ford dealership, known as the Albion Motor Sales. It was operated by Albion’s longtime auto dealer, Harry Richards, Sr. (1885-1959). Richards began selling cars in Albion in 1910; we’ll write about his early dealerships in subsequent columns. He and partners established the Albion Motor Sales in 1921, and became Albion’s Ford auto dealer. They were first located at 302 N. Superior St., the present location of the PS-Mart Citgo gas station.

Richards moved his Albion Motor Sales to his new location in 1934. The new Michigan Avenue site was formerly the Reo Garage operated by Dennis Benjamin and before that, Arthur G. Noble. The latter was the brother-in-law of Mr. Richards. The building was purchased by Mr. Richards from the closed Albion State Bank which owned it during the Great Depression.

The Michigan Avenue site served as the local Ford dealership for many years, with a repair garage in the rear. In an interesting story, during World War II auto production was suspended. Mr. Richards however purchased over a dozen autos just before that occurred. He was able to sell them for a hefty profit during the ban as he already had them in his inventory when other dealers did not. Harry’s sons Max and Harry Jr. became partners with their father and continued the family tradition with their father for many years. The dealership was sold to Bob Armstrong in 1958 which is where we will end our story this week.

From our this week we present a 1940s era photo of the Albion Motor Sales. Notice the picket fence between it and the Shell station. We are fortunate to feature this scene, as photos of this stretch of Michigan Avenue are hard to come by. If this building looks familiar to you, it was the location of Arnold’s Tire & Battery in the 1970s. Special thanks to Tom Richards (son of Harry, Jr.) for this week’s photograph. Tom, by the way, now lives in Constantine with his lovely wife Betty (Lagoy). They have now subscribed to the Morning Star by mail. Did you know you can do that? Why wait for a relative to send you these articles months later when you can get them each week in a timely manner? Contact the Morning Star for subscription information.

Albion Motor Sales circa 1940


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