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, November 9, 1997, pg. 10

One of Albionís State-of-Michigan historical site landmarks is the Holy Ascension Orthodox Church on Austin Avenue. There is a plaque mounted on the front of the building which I encourage our readers to stop and read. This church originally served the "foreign colony" Russian immigrants who came to work at the Albion Malleable Iron Company during the first two decades of this century. My recent "Ethnic Tour of Riverside Cemetery, Part 2," featured several founding members of this church. Extra copies of my tour programs are available at the Albion Chamber of Commerce while the supply lasts. I suggest obtaining some for Christmas gifts, especially for those out-of-town.

By 1915, there were approximately 600 European immigrants in Albion. Orthodox Church services were held here once a month by a priest who came from Detroit. At that time permission was granted to erect a church here in Albion.

The project was coordinated by Helen (Blesheniski) Alexandrovna Egnatuk (1850-1946), the matriarch of the Russian community. A native of Brest-Litvosk, Russia, Helen was a leader in her own right. She served as liaison to Harry Parker (vice-president of the Malleable) and the immigrant community. Mrs. Egnatuk chose the site for the church and helped supervise its construction in 1916.

The cornerstone was laid on Sunday, April 30, 1916 in an elaborate ceremony which was well attended. There is a "long" photograph depicting this event which is quite well known. The church was constructed during the summer of 1916, and was consecrated on Thanksgiving Day that fall. The first Parish Council consisted of: Harry Parchkotic/Handricks, president; Naum Dubina, Thomas Slavoff and Alexander Dmitruk.

The church has issued a couple of commemorative booklets in the past two decades giving its history. I encourage you to read these sometime. Services are still held today for its faithful members. From our Historical Notebook this week we present an early photograph of the church, taken in 1928. Notice how small the pine trees are out front. Today they are huge and obstruct the view of the church.

I am looking for a photograph of the "Star Bakery" (later the Vienna Bakery) which operated on Austin Avenue from 1914 to the late 1930s. It was owned by Trayn (Tom) Branoff. Does anyone have one? I would like to feature it sometime in this column. Let me know.

Orthodox Church in 1928


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