Any photos not otherwise credited are from the personal collection of Frank Passic, Albion Historian.
Morning Star, April 26, 1993, pg. 8
This week we continue our commentary on Clemens J. Pauli’s 1890 Bird’s Eye View of Albion. Pictured here is the southeast portion of our community as it looked a hundred years ago, in the area around present-day Victory and Rieger Parks. The big millpond can easily be seen on this map, with S. Superior St. in the lower left hand corner.
In the extreme left hand corner is shown the large home of Samuel V. Irwin, built in the early 1860s, which is still standing today at 103 Irwin Avenue. Homer Road was named Irwin Avenue in September 1883 in honor of Irwin, who was the president of the National Exchange Bank of Albion. Irwin was involved in many civic affairs, including a trustee at Albion College, a Vestryman at the St. Jame’s Episcopal Church, and one of the original stockholders of the Albion Malleable Iron Works in 1888.
On the north side of River St., labeled “5” on the map, is the South Ward School. This school was erected in 1869, and served elementary students until it was closed in June, 1920. When the James W. Sheldon Memorial Hospital was erected in the early 1920s, the School became the physical plant for the new hospital. It was eventually demolished and a new physical plant was erected on the site.
Moving east on River St., notice the large building on the banks of the millpond just south of River St. This is the Eastman Ice Company, wehre ice from the nearby millpond was taken out in chunks, and stored in sawdust through the summer months in order to provide local residents with ice for their ice boxes, a modern convenience. Can you imagine “harvesting” frozen water for your refrigerator today?
Moving further eastwards, notice that what is presently that lone block of S. Monroe St. has been labeled has Haven St. on the map. Presently, Haven Road doesn’t begin until it intersects with River St. That street was named for Martin Haven, one of Albion’s original settlers, and early postmaster. He owned the land just west of present-day Victory Park. The Albion Fairgrounds was later located on the property as was the Haven Hills Dairy. Just east (to the right) of the Victory Park waterfall you can see a small building, on the site of today’s little reflective pond. That building was the Albion Creamery. In 1913, the Creamery was purchased by Dann S. Birdsall, who formed the Maple City Dairy Company here. The building burned in 1916, and the Dairy business moved to new headquarters in the Market Place, where the Albion Meat Locker is now located.
The area known today as Victory Park was once owned by Rev. William H. Brockway (1813-1891), who served as the financial agent for Albion College. The area was known as “Brockway Woods,” and later “Dickie Woods,” after his son-in-law, Dr. Samuel Dickie, president of Albion Colege who inherited the property. Victory Park opened in 1919 in honor of those who served in World War I.
You will readily notice that there are alot of trees planted along the river and the raceway channels in this week’s illustration. These are mostly willow trees, which had been hand planted years earlier by Albion’s greatest benefactor, Jesse Crowell. The trees were planted to prevent erosion along a riverbank. Later, a stone wall was erected during the Great Depression of the 1930s to contain the river.
Moving to the upper left portion of the map, we see several buildings, which served as blacksmith, cooper, and wagon shops. S. Ionia St. is one of those streets that was never aligned according to the present numbering system. While S. Ionia St. is aligned starting with the 400 block parallel, the street starts “brand new” at a 100 block numbering.
You will notice a couple of small streams in addition to the main river. These were the raceways, which were channels of fast moving water which powered the saw, planing, grist, and electric mills and plants to the north of Erie St. which we will cover later. Along the top of the map we see the numerous homes on the south side of E. Erie St. Many of these are still standing today.
We hope you have been enjoying this very intereseting map of our community of one hundred years ago. At this point we’ll put it down for the time being and get back to it later this summer, as we have other things to cover in this column, as we learn about the rich heritage of the Albion area, here in our Historical Notebook. Part 4
* Photo Credit Information Below
1890 Bird's eye view of Albion
All text copyright, 2021 © all rights reserved Frank Passic
"Albion Historical Society Collection / Local History Room / Albion Public Library Collection"