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, May 24, 1993, pg. 4

As the Superior St. reconstruction project continues in downtown Albion, we hope when you walk downtown youíll take time to appreciate some of the historical buildings and the architecture found in our community. This week we are featuring the large building on the southwest corner of S. Superior and W. Cetner Sts., where the Subway sandwich shop is now located, at 200 S. Superior St.

Many of our older readers will remember the old J. W. Knapp department store on S. Washington St. in Lansing which closed two decades ago. Did you know that Joseph W. Knapp originally started his dry goods and carpet buisness here in Albion? In the 1890s, 100 years ago, J. W. Knapp operated a dry goods, cloaks and carpet firm here at 200 S. Superior St. in partnership with Frank W. Jewett. The firm was called Jewitt & Knapp, and was located where the Subway shop is today. Joseph W. Knapp lived at 209 E. Erie St., and Jewett lived at 208 Mulberry St..

The business came to Albion around 1893. Prior to that time, in 1884, J. W. Knapp lived in Hillsdale, In 1884 he went ot Lansing, going to work for a store known as the Burnham Company, and was employed there as a carpet salesman. He then was employed as a traveling salesman for the E. Bement Sons & Co. for a couple of years before coming to Albion.

The firm of Jewett & Knapp was in existence in Albion for about 4 years, from 1893 to 1896. The partners then moved their business to Lansing, where they purchased a dry goods store, and sitll operated under the name of Jewett & Knapp. In 1908, a Mr. Frank A. Lackey purchased the partnerís interest, and the name of the firm was changed to J. W. Knapp & Company.

From our Historical Notebook this week we present an 1894 photograph of the building, showing thelarge Jewett & Knapp sign painted on the side of the building. The south side of the building was occupied at the time by the wallpaper and window shade firm of Austin & Tucker.

The strange looking triangle at the top corner of the building is actually an electric street light hanging in the center of Superior St. The building became the headquarters of Calvin S. Tucker Dry Goods in the early 20th century. Tucker was a son-in-law of Charles Austin, Albionís first mayor (1885) and after whom Austin Avenue is named. Those who grew up in Albion during the middle of the 20th century will remember this building as the headquarters of teh Vaughn & Ragsdale Company, which closed in 1971. The building fell into disrepair, but has fortunately been rejuvenated in recent years by his historical conscious owner.

This building once was the site of an earlier structure, the Hannahs Block, where father and son Marvin and George Hannahs operated a tannery. It also was the location where Albionís Civil War newspaper, the Albion Union Herald was printed. In a sewer project at the turn of the century, workers found leather scraps under the building which dated back to the time when the site had been used as a tannery.

1894 Jewitt & Knapp Dry Goods Store


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