Albion Heritage Bed and Breakfast – 517 E. Michigan Avenue, Albion, Michigan
Albion Heritage Bed and Breakfast occupies the stately Georgian Revival home, built in 1912 by Ida Brown and her son, Benjamin. The story of how the house came to be, is interesting, and goes back to Ida Brown’s husband, John G. Brown, an Albion pioneer, astute businessman, and promoter of all things Albion.
Born in 1850 in New York state, John G. Brown (patriarch of the Brown family), moved to Battle Creek with his parents in 1855, and settled in Albion with his parents at the age of 15 (1865). They purchased the lot on the corner of Berrien and Michigan Avenue (319 E. Michigan Avenue, now the State Farm Insurance Agency), and he lived there until 1909.
A pioneer of Albion, John G. Brown graduated from Albion College in the class of 1871. Two years later he graduated from the Pharmaceutical Chemistry course at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (class of 1873). He returned to Albion, where he engaged in the drug business. On April 3, 1879 he married Miss Ida R. Fairbanks from Litchfield, Michigan. They had one son, Benjamin, (born, Feb. 12, 1883).
In 1900, Mr. Brown sold his pharmacy, and with $35,000 of his own capital, founded the Commercial and Savings Bank and became its first president. He retained that position until his death.
He served for many years as the Albion School Board Treasurer; was one of the founders of the Albion Malleable Iron Company, having donated the land upon which it was located; served as president during its early development, and was one of its directors until his death. He is buried in Riverside Cemetery.
The son, Benjamin, graduated from Albion High School; attended Albion College for two years, before going to work in his father’s bank, rising to assistant cashier. His father wanted him to become a banker, but Benjamin (never really interested in banking), left the bank in 1907 to become a member of the executive staff of the Albion Malleable Iron Company. He later became the Treasurer of the company. Two years later, upon the death of his father John G., Benjamin acceded to the Vice-Presidency of the Commercial Savings Bank.
Upon the death of John G. Brown (October 25, 1909), his widow (Ida) and son (Benjamin) purchased the vacant lot at 517 E. Michigan Avenue, and had a magnificent Georgian Revival home built there in 1912; where they both moved.
In 1915, Benjamin married Jean McCretie (McCreadie) of Wisconsin, (she being a graduate of the University of Michigan, A.B., and taught school in Albion prior to their marriage).
In 1921, Ida Fairbanks Brown died in her home at 517 E. Michigan Avenue, and services were held at the home.
Benjamin and his wife Jean continued to live in the home, and on December 22, 1926 had a son, John Thomas. His wife Jean died of unknown causes in 1932.
Benjamin continued on as a member of the Board of Directors, and Vice-Presidency of the Commercial Savings Bank, along with his position as Treasurer of Albion Malleable Iron, when at the death (1936) of Harry B. Parker, president of Malleable Iron, Benjamin succeeded to the Presidency of Malleable Iron, and maintained his position as company Treasurer.
Benjamin became ill in July, 1938, and relinquished his duties with Malleable Iron. Three weeks later, on August 6, 1938, at 4 am, Benjamin died at his home, (517 E. Michigan Avenue), where services were later held.
The home has had numerous owners since the Browns. In 1960 the home was purchased by Judge John and Mrs. Annalieda Brundage, who owned the house for 17 years. Again, after a couple of owners, one of whom was a lady doctor by the name of Seagerson, the home was purchased by Rev. David Trammel and his wife Rebecca in 1990. They lived in the home with their family until 2001. The home was then purchased by Peter and Maureen Hart, he being the Athletic Director of Albion College. The Harts owned the home for 2 years, selling it to Albion College, in the fall of 2003. It was from Albion College that Richard Lewin and his wife Mary Slater purchased the home. They have put immeasurable love and care into its restoration, and have turned it into the Albion Heritage Bed and Breakfast.