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Albionites have invented quite a few different traditions and events. One of them is Walk for Warmth, where volunteers get pledges to raise money for local residents struggling to pay the cost of heating their home.
On Saturday, February 24th, 2018, the home of Walk for Warmth celebrated the 33rd annual fundraising event for Community Action. Each year, Community Action of South Central Michigan raises money to help keep the heat on for families, the elderly, and people with disabilities in Barry, Branch, Calhoun, and St. Joseph counties.
Pictured below are the participants of Albion’s 2018 Walk for Warmth, outside of the First United Methodist Church on Michigan Avenue.
In Albion during February 1983, Pastor Tim Kurtz, then Community Action Coordinator, held a 24-hour walk to raise funds and awareness of the need for heating assistance. “Helping the Poor in 24” was his motto. Pastor Kurtz’s dedication to supporting the most vulnerable in a critical way has made a tremendous impact.
Over the years, the event has grown to provide household utility relief across the nation, ranging from Lexington, KY to Willimantic, CT. The funds generated through this event provide assistance in the form of deliverable fuel, metered gas or electric.
In 2017, 19 families and 57 family members from the Albion, Marshall, and Homer region were helped from the funds raised during Walk for Warmth that year. 52% of the households assisted last year had children and 31% had seniors. The average assistance provided by Community Action was $275.84.
Men Who Cook is an annual event in Albion Michigan to benefit the Citizens to Beautify Albion. It usually takes place on the third weekend of February.
It takes place Sunday, February 18, 2018, 12:30 PM – 2 PM at First Baptist Church in Albion, see the map at right sidebar.
“Cook, Eat and make Albion Beautiful.”
The 32nd annual Men Who Cook event is hosted by Citizens to Beautify Albion (CBA) and raises money for planting flowers along Business Loop I-94 and Austin Ave. Tickets are $7 for Adults and $3 for children under 10, they are on sale now and can be found at the following locations, Parks Drug Store, Homestead Savings Bank, and CBA members.
Cash or checks accepted, checks should be made out to Citizens to Beautify Albion. Any donations are always appreciated.
We are currently looking for volunteers or men interested in cooking. Updates will be posted frequently to the event page.
Citizens to Beautify Albion is a grassroots organization founded by Richard and Elverta Weatherford in 1985, dedicated to beautifying Albion by planting flowers along the entrances and business loop of Albion. This is accomplished by raising funds with the annual Men Who Cook fundraiser and having community volunteers plant and maintain the flowers during the summer season. The Weatherford Garden is also maintained along with permanent flower planters in the downtown business district.
Citizens to Beautify Albion is looking for volunteers to help plant flowers, and to keep the roadside gardens weeded and watered during the growing season.
Citizens to Beautify Albion is a non profit organization and appreciates your donations of money and time so that we can keep Albion beautiful.
Click one of the links below for more information:
More about the location, the contestants, the crowd and other videos also!
The Cardboard Classic Sled Race began in Albion Michigan in 1990 and was created by the Greater Albion Chamber of Commerce. The event was originally sponsored by World Corrugated.
In 2018, the race was held the day after a Winter Emergency, and there was 10 inches of fresh powder snow, and brisk 18 degree temperatures.
Preview of the Cardboard Contestants 2018 page below.
You are invited to a fun holiday shopping event at Schuler Arts in Albion Michigan. There will be about 20 artists with their work, and an opportunity to meet your friends and say hello. Schuler Arts is located at 1201 Maple St., Albion, Michigan, not far from Albion Family Fare.
See the map at the bottom of this page and links to the official website and facebook event page.
Come & take part in the 14th Annual Cozy Up With Art . Visit with artists and craft vendors who will display and sell a variety of creative wares. Enjoy some tasty treats and be inspired by joyful seasonal music. You may also join an art class and create your own holiday art gift. We hope to see you at this special event celebrating Art, Creativity and the Joy of the Christmas Season. 10:00-2:00–Displays & Festivities in the Gallery & Studios 3:00-4:30–Holiday Art Classes–$35.00 fee for Glass fusing or Clay Activities. Please call ahead to register. (517) 629-8293
Amanda Cheladyn & Kids– Waldorf Dolls & Soaps
Debbie Erlandson–Jewlery, Painting & Music CD’s
Nicole Goetz–Knitted Accessories & Other Textiles
Mary Habicht–Watercolor Painting
Maggie LaNoue–Prints & Cards
Joan Larsen–Monotype Designs
Pat Messer–Photography & Printed Cards
Sue Ott–Holiday Plants & Floral Gifts
Bobbie Van Eck–Fused Glass Designs
Nobel & Pam Schuler–Clay, Fused Glass & Drawing
6 Sisters–Fudge, Candles & Other Wonderful Stuff
Teiko & Robert Wall–Photography
Melanie Westheider– Pottery
Laura Wylie–All-Natural Soaps
* Special Music by Dan Steeves
**Additional Albion Artists Displays
*** Cozy Up with Art is Co-hosted by Schuler Arts Creativity Retreat Center & Albion Heritage Bed & Breakfast
This year the Festival was not on the brick Superior Street, but in true Albion style we adapted to the situation and made it work. These aerial photos show a different perspective of where most of the activities were.
Swingin’ at the Shell has a great lineup of live music planned for the 2017 concert series, including a new musical group that has moved to Albion that has over 13,000 fans on “ReverbNation.com”. See more about each artist on this page: swingin-at-the-shell-concerts-2017/
This portrait of Juliette Calhoun Blakeley is in the Gardner House Museum.
On May 13, 1877, the second Sunday of the month, Juliet Calhoun Blakeley stepped into the pulpit of the Methodist-Episcopal Church and completed the sermon for the Reverand Myron Daughterty. According to local legend, Daughterty was distraught because an antitemperance group had forced his son to spend the night in a saloon.
Proud of their mother’s achievement, Charles and Moses Blakeley encouraged other to pay tribute to their mothers. In the 1880’s the Albion Methodist church began celebrating Mother’s Day in Blakeley’s honor.
From Frank Passic’s historical essay:
“The original Blakeley home stood on the southeast corner of W. Cass and S. Clinton Sts., the present site of a city parking lot across from the fire station. Mrs. Blakeley allowed her house to serve as one of the local hiding stations for the so-called “Underground Railroad” which transported fugitive slaves to safety in Canada. The entire Blakeley family was involved in the operation out of their home. The family would hide the fugitives in the bottom of their wagon under bags of grain, or covered with ears of corn, and transport them along the predetermined route.
Julia’s son Charles Blakeley (1852-1935) often served as the driver. On one particular mission when he was accompanied by his father, Charles was held up by slave catchers who, in their search for fugitives, poked long sharp sticks through a visible bottom coop-type area covered by grain sacks, located under the wagon. They found no one however, because the slaves were hidden higher up under the main portion of the wagon. The artificial coop had been purposely placed there to distract the slave catchers.
Years later when Mrs. Blakeley was publicly honored by her church, two local black youth, Wilbur Moore and Claude Thomas, ages three and four respectively, were given the honor of pulling a rope which unfurled a large American flag at the church. This was done in recognition of Mrs. Blakeley’s participation in the Underground Railroad many years earlier.
Unfortunately, the original Blakeley home at 121 W. Cass/103 S. Clinton St. that served as an Underground Railroad stop here was demolished years ago.”
This view of the waterfall in Victory Park shows one of the most beautiful views of Albion’s natural landscape. It is perhaps the largest landmark of Albion, except for Albion’s brick “Main Street” (Superior Street.)
Some background about the Victory Park waterfall is provided by Frank Passic: (used with permission)
“It’s an Albion landmark that is so routinely noticed, that it has remained unnoticed when listing the assets of our community. It’s the Victory Park dam/waterfall. This cement structure was built to hold back and regulate the waters of the South Branch of the Kalamazoo River in order to produce electric power at the Commonwealth Power Company plant on E. Erie St. The Company had purchased the old Red flour mill on E. Erie St. and converted it into making electricity. The water behind the dam/waterfall was called the millpond. The mill part referred to the flour and sawmills that were once located downstream in a variety of locations. They harnessed the water power to turn the wheels which ground the grain. For example, the Citizens Bank building was once a water-powered flour mill built by Jesse Crowell in 1845.
Adjacent to the dam was a “raceway” where the flowing water “raced” to the mills. This was kept deep in order to provide adequate flowing water pressure by time the water reached the mills downhill. When the mills were working, water was diverted through the raceway, and the flow of water over the Victory Park dam was greatly diminished to the point where there were some bare spots. ”
2005, is a special year. It marks the 100th anniversary of the building of our present Victory Park dam. It was in September, 1905 that local contractor George E. Dean (1872-1932) built our present cement dam to replace the old stone one that had existed at the site since Albion’s pioneer days. The new dam was built over the old one. Mr. Dean, as you might recall, laid Albion’s first cement sidewalks in 1901. One of the last stretches of these walks was finally removed this past fall in September 2004 in the 800 and 900 blocks of S. Eaton St. His sidewalks might now be gone, but his dam remains today! Also during September, 1905, Mr. Dean built the Hannah St. bridge at “Dutchtown,” which included a decorative arch underneath. This bridge is often pictured in postcards of the period.
When the new dam was built, Mr. Dean had to let the water out of the millpond (that’s up by S. Superior St. and Riverside Cemetery) in order to let the cement dry. This created fish traps in holes, where people scooped up large fish by hand in the rocks below the dam. Imagine what the area around Riverside Cemetery would look like today if the water was “let out” as it was in 1905.
The dam area contained various features and contraptions which were used in the regulation of the water for generating purposes. That accounts for the various metal rods that stick up here and there in the structure complex, including the triangular shaped piece of cement in the very center. On the south footbridge below, there is a metal property line boundary marker imbedded in it that states, “Consumers Power.” One special aspect of the dam was the building of a “fish ladder.” This was so fish could swim upstream. It was located on the north side of the dam.
Consumer’s Power Company used the millrace to generate electricity at its E. Erie St. plant until shortly after World War II. Apparently the millpond was filling up with silt and the water pressure (which turned the generators) was lessening as a result. For whatever reason, Consumers abandoned local water powered electricity in Albion. The closest date I can come up with is around 1948 when water powered electric generating stopped. If anyone has an accurate date, please let me know.
After that point, Consumer’s abandoned the site, and much of the land was acquired by the City of Albion. The raceway was filled in the Market Place, and three ponds were fashioned out of what remained upstream. The first was developed to become the skating pond at Rieger Park. The second just north of Walnut St. was transformed into an outdoor hockey rink. This was shaved down and finally eliminated by the 1980s. The pond by the dam still stands today, with the old mechanism used to raise and lower the gates still there, though unused. A buried drain line carries the flowing water into the Rieger Park pond today. The water then exists into the Kalamazoo River, instead of flowing across E. Erie St. as it once did to the Consumer’s Power building.
From our Historical Notebook this week we present a photograph taken around 1907 of the Victory Park Dam (Note: the area wasn’t known as Victory Park until after World War I). Notice that the water flow is sporadic in this photo, meaning water was being diverted at the time to the raceway on the side for generating purposes. There are also alot of cattails growing on the south side. A woman is standing on the large cement wall on the north side. In the center bottom below, you can see the edge of the fish ladder which once was located here.
With September, 2005 being the 100th anniversary of the building of our present Victory Park dam, and September also being the month the Festival of the Forks is held, wouldn’t it be appropriate to center a theme around this Albion landmark this year? After all, it is located just above “The Forks,” and this dam site is what provided the waterpower which brought the pioneers to Albion.