Russian Orthodox Church, 1916 to present
State Register of Historic Places
Holy Ascension of Christ Orthodox Church, ID Number P22688
Photo Information: Holy Ascension of Christ Orthodox Church, photo submitted in1981.
Significant Dates: 1916
State Register Listed: 11/16/1981
Marker Erected: 10/13/1982
Albion’s Russian community began in 1904 when a recruiterfor the Albion Malleable Iron Co. brought back from NewYork six immigrants to provide labor for the company’sfoundry. By 1915 the colony had grown to number about sixhundred people–mainly White Russians and Ukrainians, butalso Poles, Macedonians, Serbians, Italians, and Greeks. Atfirst, services were held once a month by a priest sent fromDetroit, but in 1915 permission was granted for a church inAlbion. Local residents, led by Harry B. Parker, president ofAlbion Malleable, raised $5,000 for a church building anddonated a lot and bell. The church was built in 1916 and is asimple, frame structure with Russian influences. Ascension ofChrist is the oldest Russian Orthodox parish in Michiganoutside of Detroit; it served a wide area and mothered churchescurrently existing in Kalamazoo, Battle Creek, Lansing, andJackson.
HOLY ASCENSION ORTHODOX CHURCH | In 1904 theAlbion Malleable Iron Company began recruiting workers forits foundry. The arrival of six Russians from New York Citymarked the beginning of Albion’s “Foreign Colony.” By 1915the Foreign Colony had grown to around 600 people of severalEast European nationalities, most of whom were OrthodoxChristians. Initially, a visiting priest from Detroit conductedAlbion’s Orthodox services, but by 1915 permission to build anOrthodox church had been granted. A fund drive within thecity raised $5,000. The cornerstone was laid on April 30, 1916,and the church was consecrated on Thanksgiving Day of thatyear. Holy Ascension Church was the only non-GreekOrthodox parish in south-central Michigan until the late 1950s.
Source: Michigan’s Historic Sites Online. Downloaded 2003.
The Holy Ascension Orthodox Church at 810 Austin Avenue was erected in 1916 to serve the spiritual needs of the several hundred Eastern-European immigrants who had settled in Albion. Many were White Russians and Ukranians who came here to work at the Albion Malleable Iron Company. The project was coordinated by Helen Egnatuk (1850-1946), the matriarch of the local Russian community. The church was named an official historic site by the State of Michigan in 1983, and still holds services today.
Source: Frank Passic. A Pictorial History of Albion, Michigan; From the Archives of the Albion Historical Society. Dallas, Texas: Curtis Media Corporation. 1991.