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.


Albion Recorder, August 11, 1997, pg. 4

Some of our older readers might remember the old J. W. Knapp Department Store on South Washington Street in downtown Lansing which closed many years ago. Did you know that Joseph W. Knapp originally started his dry goods and carpet business here in Albion?

Prior to 1884, J. W. Knapp lived in Hillsdale. In 1884 he moved to Lansing, going to work as a carpet salesman for a store known as the Burnham Company. He then was employed as a traveling salesman for the E. Bement & Sons for a couple of years.

In the 1890s, J. W. Knapp operated a dry goods, cloaks and carpet firm here in Albion in partnership with Frank W. Jewett. The firm was called Jewett & Knapp, and was located at 200 S. Superior St., where the Subway Sandwich Shop is now. This building for many years housed the Vaughns Men’s Wear in the early 20th century. Joseph W. Knapp lived at 209 E. Erie St., while his partner resided at 208 Mulberry St.

The 1895 publication Headlight Albion mentions that Jewett & Knapp had commenced business here in Albion "about two years ago" and that both men were natives of Michigan. The business was gone in the 1897 Albion directory. The firm moved to Lansing, where the men purchased a dry goods store there, keeping the name Jewett & Knapp. In 1908, a Mr. Frank Lackey purchased the partners’ interest, and the name of the firm was changed to the J. W. Knapp & Co. The J. W. Knapp Company was a major Lansing department store and landmark for many years, often advertising on Lansing television station 6 which made its name know statewide.

This week we present an 1894 photograph of the Jewett & Knapp firm on the southwest corner of S. Superior and West Center Streets. The firm was located on the north side of the building. The unusual shaped object at the top corner is actually one of Albion’s very first electric street lights, powered by a dynamo off the Jesse Crowell Stone Mill (now Citizens Bank). In front of the building are hitching posts for horses. On the south side of the building is the Austin and Tucker Wallpaper and Window Shades firm.

Jewett & Knapp, 1894


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