Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
February 16, 2020, pg. 3
When you hear the name Parker in Albion, you may think of the landmark Parker Inn Hotel, in existence here from 1924 to 1972. But there was also another Parker hotel, called Parker's Exchange Hotel. The two namesakes weren't related. Charles T. Parker (1815-1882) was a prominent Albion businessman who came to Albion with his wife Sarah (Beardsley) in 1848. Their hotel was located at 110 W. Michigan Avenue, which presently is the site of the parking lot behind our U.S. Post Office.
The hotel went by various names through the years. It was originally erected in 1839 by Enos Dutton. In 1848 Dutton sold the hotel to Charles T. Parker and the name was changed to Parker's Exchange Hotel. Regarding that 1848 purchase, the 1869 History of Calhoun County remarks (pg. 131): "…since which time it has been kept as a temperance house, and so successfully as to afford proof that a public house can be maintained in a respectable manner without the sale of ardent spirits." An 1870s-era key tag bears the name "C. T. Parker, Globe Hotel, Albion, Mich."
Dr. Elmore Palmer wrote about Charles in his 1908 Biographical Sketches: "He was a typical landlord, clever and congenial by nature, and accommodating to all."
This wooden hotel was strategically located right next to the Michigan Central Railroad tracks to the south, and the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad tracks to the north. Passengers could easily walk to the hotel to spend the night if they so desired. In later years the hotel became a boarding house.
After Parker's death in 1882, the hotel was acquired by Henry VanAtta (1833-1911) and his wife Louisa (1839-1902), and renamed the Union House Hotel. An 1894 advertisement stated, "Rates, $1 per day, special accommodations to the commercial public. All accommodations that are found in a first-class hotel." The structure eventually became a boarding house a few years later, for in the 1897-98 Albion City Directory the heading "hotel" has been eliminated, and replaced with "Boarding House." It lists the following persons living in the structure: Henry Van Atta, Charles B. Wallace, Mrs. Nettie Osborn, William J. Townsend, and Burt Drury.
The VanAtta's daughter Cora (1860-1954) took over the operations as proprietor and renamed it the Van Atta House. It is last listed in the 1913 Albion City Directory. In 1915 the U.S. Government purchased the property as part of the site of the new Post Office which was to be built, and the building was razed that same year.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph of the Parker House Hotel-VanAtta House.
The Parker House Hotel-VanAtta Boarding House
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic