By SYLVIA BENAVIDEZ
October 7, 2021
In a weekend filled with positive news, the Albion Community Foundation received a $300,000 gift from the Cram family to honor their parents Dr. Ralph Cram and the late Mary E. Cram. This fund was established by their daughter Virginia Cram-Marto and Dr. Cram to celebrate their family’s legacy of philanthropy and volunteerism.
This generous gift will initially be used to revitalize the Albion train depot and then establish an ACF endowment to maintain the 1882 Victorian train station. On completion of the depot restoration project, the fund will be used to support projects and organizations in Albion that the Cram family holds dear to their heart.
Mary Cram led the 1986 fundraising and restoration efforts to reclaim the abandoned train depot. For her dedication to this cause, she was nominated for the Michigan Volunteer of the Year Award and received the George Award in 1986. Those awards will hang in the revitalized depot along with a plaque in her honor.
Shane Williamson, ACF executive director said, “The revitalization of this depot is a fitting tribute to Mary Cram’s love of all things Albion. Her broad range of interests and her philanthropy and leadership are respected in the community. She was a civic leader, devoted wife and mother, and Renaissance woman who was beloved by her husband, longtime family physician Dr. Cram, who in his own right is a philanthropist, esteemed physician and a man for all seasons.”
The depot revitalization is the second time the Foundation has been involved in the restoration of the old Michigan Central Railroad depot.
The depot revitalization is the second time the Foundation has been involved in the restoration of the old Michigan Central Railroad depot. The Victorian depot closed in 1971 when the Penn Central Railroad ceased passenger service to Albion.
The Albion Community Foundation then agreed to be the avenue for donations to restore this historic depot which is a prominent architectural building near downtown. Initial restoration included returning the exterior to its original look and renovation of the interior to allow for historic authenticity but with modern amenities for offices, restrooms, and an Amtrak train and Greyhound bus passenger waiting room. The City of Albion took possession of the depot following the completed restoration. Lack of city funding over the past 35 years has led to the present-day deterioration of the train station.
The initial project was a cooperative effort between the Foundation, Friends of the Depot, Albion College, the Albion Chamber of Commerce, and other local groups. A total of $30,000 was raised in local contributions from the Foundation, service groups, and private contributors during the initial fundraising campaign. In-kind donations of labor, construction management, publicity, interior and exterior historically accurate decorating, and construction materials made the restoration project feasible.
Mary Cram was a former ACF trustee who worked tirelessly with the late Ken Kolmodin, also a trustee and Albion College facilities director, and other local civic leaders to restore the depot. These civic leaders included the late Bill Stoffer, ACF former president and Albion mayor, Marcia Starkey and David Moore, former ACF presidents and Albion volunteers Maggie LaNoue and Linda Kolmodin were also instrumental in the first restoration.
These civic leaders included the late Bill Stoffer, ACF former president and Albion mayor, Marcia Starkey and David Moore, former ACF presidents and Albion volunteers Maggie LaNoue and Linda Kolmodin were also instrumental in the first restoration.
A future local fundraising campaign will also be part of this ACF Cram Fund project to save the depot. The train station has foundation issues and other structural concerns that will require professional restoration. In addition, the depot interior needs refurbishing in keeping with an authentic Victorian theme while still maintaining modern office space and transportation train and bus facilities.
Photos by Sylvia Benavidez except as noted. Photos and story copyright, The Recorder.
This story is reprinted with permission from The Recorder.
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