Albion, Oh, Albion

Neil Johnson

Albion Village Historian

No. 1296—An Historic Event

On Tuesday evening, September 9, word spread through the Internet that Albion had won the competition for the Western Erie Canal Main Street Program.  This program, based on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Main Street Program, will annually provide $50,000 of community planning for three years to Albion, to match the money that has been pledged locally to hire and support a trained community planner.

All of Western New York has suffered greatly since World War II, as industry has moved South to cheaper climates and industry has globalized.  It has been very difficult to plan what our cities and villages should do to replace the farms, steel mills, canning plants, and automobile parts factories that used to drive the Western New York economy.

This grant will provide Albion with much needed overall expert planning to coordinate the individual efforts that have so valiantly been made in the face of daunting adversity.  The grant application, put together in a month and a half by a highly dedicated volunteer team, was overwhelming and very professional.  It indicates what spirit and expertise there is in this village.

The Albion application was put together by DART—Downtown Albion Revival Tea—a loose group of volunteers spearheaded by village trustee Dean Theodorakos.  The presentation was made in Rochester on Wednesday, September 3, with four presenters—lawyer Nathan Lyman, Theodorakos, preservation architect Andrea Rebeck, and school board president and Pratt Opera owner Michael Bonafede—made a powerful, well-organized Power Point presentation.  They were supported by more than a dozen community members including Albion Central School System Superintendent Ada Grabowski, ACS grants manager Sue Stark weather, the Rev. Gary Saunders of the First Presbyterian Church of Albion, Albion Betterment Committee Member and county legislator Gary Kent, and Albion Town Superintendent Judy Koehler.

In the coming years the dedication shown by DART dedication will be needed from all the residents as we strive to meet the financial commitment we have made, and endeavor to understand and implement the ideas of the community planner who will head a new non-profit corporation dedicated to revitalizing Albion

Moreover, this is a grand opportunity to benefit the whole county.  The arbitrary rules of the competition, which both Medina and Albion fought against, were that only Albion or Median could get the grant.  Both villages recognized that this made no sense in a county as small as Orleans.  We need everyone in the county working together, not competing, to forge a new reason for the county to exist. 

This spirit of cooperation and support was shown during the competition and continues now that Albion has received the grant.  As I write this, the news is less than 18 hours old, but already there is talk of a celebration party, including Medina, Holly, and Lyndonville, all of whom, we hope, will benefit from what Albion will learn.

I will be very pleased if, in the coming years, I can write a history that shows Orleans County putting together a new plan for life in 2008.  It would a great change from store closings, loss of industry, destruction of our landscape, and general hopelessness.

TABOOH—This coming Wednesday, September 17, I will present another noontime history talk in the monthly Take a Bite Out Of History series at the Swan LIBRARY, Albion.  These one half hour talks are aimed at people who want something interesting on their lunch break.  The talks begin at 12:15 and end (theoretically) at 12:45.  You are invited to bring your lunch--drinks and snacks are provided.

The topic this month is the second half of George Pullman’s life—the popularization of his Palace Sleeping Car, the building of the Pullman Memorial Church in Albion, and the Pullman strike in 1894.

MOUNT ALBION CEMETERY TOUR—Orleans County Historian C. W. Lattin and I will give our penultimate cemetery tour of 2008 at Mount Albion on Sunday, September 21, at 2:00 PM.  We have not yet decided on the tour route, but since we have only two tours left for this year, we will do one on the old east side and the other on the newer west side.

Next week:  Back to the William Hart Farm.