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.

CITIZEN’S LUMBER DATES BACK TO 1890s

Morning Star, December 13, 2020, Pg. 9

As has been announced, Citizens/Legg Lumber in Albion is going out of business. It has been Albion’s last lumber company for many years. The business dates back to 1892, when Samuel A. Wilder (1836-1918) and Edward Keep purchased the Hathaway & Moore lumberyard at 101 S. Monroe St.

It eventually became known as S.A. Wilder & Son, the latter being Allen J. Wilder (1868-1950). As a side note, Allen’s daughter Audrey Kenyon Wilder (1896-1979) became a longtime Albion historian, and Dean of Women at Albion College. Wilder & Son dealt in retail lumber, lath, shingles, contractors and builders’ materials, and other construction supplies. The old office building is still there today, a small structure that sits back just to the south of the former spur railroad track. It bears a modern "Lumbertown" sign on its "old West style" front façade. A new brick office building was subsequently erected in front of it on railroad property, and was in use until 1973.

In 1941, Wilder Lumber was sold to Louis Legg of Coldwater, and was renamed Citizens Lumber Company. Long-time manager of Citizens for more than three decades was Robert Fisher, Sr. (1907-2001). Another enduring employee for several decades was Jack VanDyke (1907-2001). The Legg firm (which owns several lumber facilities in Southern Michigan) constructed a new office building in 1973, at which time the name Citizens Cash Way Lumber was introduced. The Lumbertown logo was added in February, 1986. Various managers have run Citizens (also known as Legg Lumber) in its recent years, with Tim Paugh being the final manager. The property was purchased by Albion College in 2014, but the business was allowed to continue at that time.

Citizens Lumber Company was once a very busy place. Lumber purchased here was used to build and remodel countless numbers of homes and businesses here in the Albion area. It was a center where carpenters and builders gathered and discussed various topics. Unfortunately, "big box" national lumber firms in nearby Jackson helped drain away business over the past couple of decades, as Albion people began going there for their lumbering needs. As Albion has been without a hardware store, now Albion will also be without a lumber yard. From our Historical Notebook this week we present an early 20th photograph of the original S.A. Wilder & Son lumber office building. Standing left to right are: John Geyer, Andy Thayer, Hugh Hinckley, Allen J. Wilder, and Samuel A. Wilder in the buggy. How many of our readers have purchased lumber or other items at Citizens Lumber Company in Albion?


S.A. Wilder & Son lumber office building

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