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, April 12, 1993

This week we are in for a real treat, as we feature something that has never been published before about Albion history, except in the original: The 1890 Bird’s Eye View of Albion, Michigan, by artist Clemens J. Pauli. The Bird’s Eye View was a very popular art form immediately following the Civil War. One prominent artist named Albert Ruger established his headquarters in Battle Creek, and drew many Bird’s Eye Views of Michigan cities in the late 1860s. He drew one of Albion in 1866, and that View was reprinted in quantity a few years ago and has been enjoyed by many area residents.

However, Albion also had another Bird’s Eye View drawn by an artist, this one in 1890, just over one hundred years ago! The artist was Clemens J. PAuli, of the firm of Beck and Pauli of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Pauli was a major producer of Bird’s Eye Views of Midwest cities in the 1880s and 1890s. For years local historians had known that such an 1890 view had been published, but none could locate a copy. An article appearing in the “locals” column of the June 21, 1890 issue of the Albion Recorder proved that one had actually been published. We quote:

“C. J. Pauli who got up a Bird’s eye view of Albion delivered copies to subscribers this week. There were a few more printed than was rquired to fill orders, and those desiring copies can secure them by calling at the Recorder office. The price is one dollar apiece.”

About two years ago, a Pauli print of Albion turned up in some Sheridan Township materials and old record books which were transferred to the local history room at the Albion Public Library. When this historian saw it, he immediately knew he had seen it before, as an elementary student at Dalrymple School in the early 1960s. What class or what teacher, I cannot remember. I wish I knew, as I would like to obtain a good original copy.

The specimen at the Library is torn, fragmented into sections, and is very fragile. The original is not available for public perusal, but a good Xerox copy of the original was made at the time, and that is available for study at the Library. The historical significance of this 1890 view of Albion is great, as it helps us understand the growth of Albion during the late1880s and early 1890s, during a time when there has been a big gap in research materials available. The 1885 city directory was the last one printed until 1894-95, leaving a big gap there. Also, there were vary few issues of the Recorder or Mirror newspapers saved from 1888 to 1890, leaving another gap. This 1890 View now can be used to prove a particular building, home, site, or business was in existence in 1890 here in Albion. It also shows the growth of the city, what streets were developed, various landmarks at the time, and other helpful information.

This writer has pieced together the Xerox copy fragments, and like a jigsaw puzzle, has pieced together an entire View, which measures approximately 19 x 25 inches. This week we are going to feature the western portion of the city, looking north from W. Erie St., and west of Eaton and Clinton St.

In looking at this View, the big landmark of course is the Gale Manufacturing Company, which moved to the site on N. Albion St. in 1888. Notice that N. Albion Street did not extend past the Kalamazoo RIver in 1890, but ended at the Gale plant. On “top” of the Gale are the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railroad tracks, which went to Homer, Litchfield, and Hillsdale. The tracks to Homer were abandoned in 1943, except for the portion serving the Gale plant. These were torn up in 1976, and the old railroad trestle which remains is now part of the McClure Riverfront Park. Southeast of the Gale plant and labeled “5” is the West Ward School, erectd in 1873. This school was filled with many students of German ancestry whose parents worked at the Gale plant. In my book “A History of the Albion Public Schools,” on pages 18 and 19, you will find pictured and identified the 3rd and 4th graders at this school in the year 1890--the year this View was published.

Southwest of the West Ward School at the intersection of W. Center and N. Albion Sts. is a prominent house (the bottom one), which was demolished just a few weeks ago. That was the home of Lawrence W. Cole, who was the founder and editor of Albion’s Democratic newspaper, the Albion Mirror.

Moving along, notice that W. Cass St. ended at N. Ann St., and that what is now Dalrymple St. was first called W. Division St. That is because Division used to be the city limits. It was renamed Dalrymple Boulevard around the turn of the century in honor of Charles W. Dalrymple who served 39 years on the school board, and also was an Albion mayor. By the way, Washington St. was originally named Perry St., but because no bridges were erected over the Kalamazoo River to connect it with the rest of Perry St. on the east side of town, the street was renamed Washington St. after “the father of our country,” President George Washington.

Notice how sparse Austin Avenue looked in 1890. The area around Austin was not developed until the Albion Malleable Iron Company moved to the area on N. Albion St. in 1897. N. Albion St. did not extend to Austin Avenue, but notice that Williams St. went straight from W. Chestnut to Austin! The only street in Albion developed north of Austin was Arthur St., which made the same big curve turn back then as it does today. Notice the development of homes on N. Eaton St. Many of these houses were erected in the 1880s by local carpenter and contractor Charles N. Sturdevant (1854-1928).

On the far right just south of Austin Avenue and east of N. Eaton St. is found the North Ward School, labeled “5” on the map. This was one of the original elementary Ward schools that were erected in 1869. The school was torn down in 1910 in order to erect Austin School on the site. Austin School is named afer Charles F. Austin (1836-1899), Albion’s first Mayor (1885). Austin Avenue used to be called “Marshall Road,” but was renamed in Austin’s honor.

In the upper right hand corner, you can see a circular area. This is the racetrack of Willard Warner, a descendant of the prominent Warner clan who helped found and build Albion. Willard served as a deputy sheriff, and loved horses. His racetrack was located north of Austin Avenue between N. Clinton eastwards through present-day N. Superior St., which did not exist at the time past Austin Avenue. Notice on this map that North Street does not exist. The reason there is a “jog” at N. Clinton St. on North is that Warner did not sell the property until a few years later, thus creating a discrepancy between where the first block of North St. was built, and where it was later extended after Warner sold the property. The racetrack was quite popular, and those of you who live on N. Clinton St. or on N. Superior St. north of Austin Avenue ought to know that there once was a racetrack in your back yard, or even right where your house sits today!

Next week we’ll take a look at another section of map in this very unique 1890 Bird’s Eye View of our community. For those of you who are interseted in Bird’s Eye Views, I have just printed up a limited number of my 52-page book guide to the 1866 Bird’s Eye View of Albion. If you want one, they can be purchased at the Albion Chamber of Commerce.

* Photo Credit Information Below

Bird's eye view of Albion in 1890

More about the Birds Eye View Map of 1890


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* Photo Credit Information: Images with this code are from the
"Albion Historical Society Collection / Local History Room / Albion Public Library Collection"