Downtown Albion Michigan – showing the buildings in the 200 block of South Superior Street as they were on March 18, 2016. The buildings in the lower left of this photo are scheduled to be demolished the first week of April to prepare for construction of a new hotel in the same block. To get an idea of the location of this project, see Cascarelli’s of Albion, near the middle and on the left side of Superior Street, and the Bohm Theatre marque on the right side of the street.
In this photo, Albion’s brick “main street” is also shown. Near the horizon, Albion’s blue water tower can be seen, along with a nearby church steeple. The Kalamazoo River winds across the downtown district, but is covered with payment in the parking lot behind City Hall, which can be seen behind Cascarelli’s.
A charter bus in this photo stops at Cascarelli’s and hungry travelers come in to see the historic restaurant and get a bite to eat. We saw them going in when we were there helping to plan directions for this drone photo shoot. Be watching this website for new photos showing the downtown demolition in early April.
A quote from “Place Promo” website.
The red clay bricks of Superior Street, one of the few intact brick trunklines in the state, are the result of a 1993 resurfacing. This project replaced a brick street laid in 1940, itself a reconstruction of the original red brick street laid in 1903. Prior to 1903 Superior Street was dirt. The 1993 project was the first state trunkline to be resurfaced in brick in decades. Getting the project done required a high level of cooperation between the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the Federal Highway Administration, and the city. Local attachment to the roadway spurred leaders to work towards retaining the traditional brick surface, which is an integral element of the overall ambiance of the Albion downtown. Residents were disappointed when it was ruled that a double yellow line was required down the middle of the street. Because Superior Street is park of trunkline M-99, no variance could be offered. MDOT attempted to find yellow brick suitable for the lines, but in the end were forced to paint the lines. In 1994 MDOT was honored by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network’s Government Award for the successful recreation of the brick street. Original brick streets can be found on Erie Street, running one block east and one block west from South Superior Street.
A critical linking element for the overall district is the brick paving of Superior Street, the last local element of what was once a major road surfacing material. The paving program began in 1903 and was completed in 1910. Superior Street, between the Michigan Central Railroad south to Ash Street, was paved with red brick in 1903. The roadways were replaced in 1913. By the 1930s these streets had again deteriorated badly. Mayor Norman Wiener began a campaign to solicit the needed funs for a second street replacement. In 1940 his labors paid off when the WHPA sponsored the re-bricking program. The project involved running a concrete substrate that was covered by new bricks laid in regular patterns. White bricks were used to mark the center lines, cross walks, and parking spaces – a unique innovation. The completed project came in at a total cost of $55,319. A three day celebration, complete with a parade down the new roadway, marked the end of the project. The brick street was replaced again in 1992 through Michigan Department of Transportation funds. Community attachment to the brick paving was critical in this most recent effort, as initial plans called for replacement with more contemporary paving materials.
The Superior Street Commercial Historic District is representative of the economic benefits that a combination of water power and rail service can have on a community. The wealth and prosperity created is reflected in the commercial architecture in the district. Good planning, foresight, and diversity are reflected in the continued viability of the historic commercial core after industry and transportation foci have moved elsewhere. Historic pride is reflected in the upkeep of the appearance of the commercial district, from individual buildings to maintenance of the brick roadways. Albion’s Superior Street Commercial Historic District is an example of such pride, foresight, and planning.
(citation at bottom of page)
This English Watercolor from the same basic angle was created by Maggie LaNoue in 1985. The Kalamazoo River can be seen winding through Albion, and the legs of the water tower are visible in the upper right. Several of the buildings have changed since the time this drawing was done. The 200 block of S. Superior Street was full of buildings, including the A.I.M. building on the left, the old hotel building at the corner (the blue building that was at one time a four story hotel), The Albion Recorder building in the back of that block (it is a yellow tan color building), and the old Subway building that was damaged by a storm in 2014. This block was designated a brownfield, which helped to secure funding for the new hotel that will be built in this block.
The old Albion Grain Elevator can be seen in the middle right of this painting, and the Farmer’s Market is on the far lower right. The Coca-Cola mural is just above the river in the middle.
Isaac David Kremer, Albion Interactive History, www.placepromo.com/aih, 2001-2011, [4-3-2016].