Albion Interactive History / Businesses / Citizens Lumber

Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / Industry

Citizens Lumber Company, 1941

When the Wilder Lumber Company was sold to Louis E. Legg of Coldwater on March 18, 1941, it became known as the Citizens Lumber Company. The Legg family had been in the lumber business in Coldwater since 1866, and began acquiring several lumber firms in southern Michigan. The original manager of Citizens wasVern McMahan, who had managed the Coldwater operation. McMahan stayed here until 1943, when he returned to manage the Coldwater facility. He later managed theMarshall Lumber Company and became vice-president of the Legg corporation.

Trading place with McMahan in 1943 and serving as manager of the Citizens Lumber Company for more than three decades was Robert Fisher, Sr., of Coldwater, who was a familiar face to many of Albion’s builders for many years. Fisher, born in 1907, began his careerwith the Legg company in 1926 at the age of 19.

Another enduring employee of Citizens Lumber Company has been Jack VanDyke, who came to work at the Albion facility from Coldwater in 1945 a the age of 22. VanDyke has worked as a general assistant at Citizens for more than forty-seven years.

During the 1940s and 1950s, Citizens relied heavily upon railroad boxcar shipments of lumber, which arrived on the rail spur leading into the lumber yard. Many boxcars of lumber arrived there during the building boom of the 1950s. It often took ten or twelve men two days to unload the boxcar of lumber into the warehouses. The contractors would so load their trucks directly from the boxcars. But as lumber was gradually shipped more and more by truck, railroad shipment ended. The spur to the main line was torn up in 1976.

James Johnson replaced longtime manager Robert Fisher, Sr., in October 1971. Johnson was a native of Three Rivers and had previously worked for the Legg Lumber Company at Holt. He remained at Citizens for three years, then left for a position with another lumber firm in the Lansing area. His successors as managers of Citizens were Ron Yost and the Mike Scott, who each respectively held the position a few years.

In 1973, Citizens Lumber Company constructed a new office building which increased office and retail space tenfold. The “ribbon” cutting ceremony held on July 18, 1973, was actually the cutting of a pine two by four.

The former office building property was owned by the railroad, but the office had been constructed and owned by the Wilder family. Louis Legg did not believe in owning property or leased land, so he rented the facility from the Wilder family for more than three decades, probably paying for it many times over. After moving in the new building, Citizens abandoned the former office building, which was subsequently sold.

Upon the move in the new building in 1973, the name of the company was expanded to Citizens Cash Way Lumber, which suggested preferred method of payment for purchases. In February 1986, the Legg conglomerate adopted a “Lumbertown” logo for all its facilities.

In early 1982, Bruce Korstange replaced Mike Scott as manager of Citizens. Korstange had previously served as Albion building inspector for two years. He was promoted to the Legg firm’s Hold Pageant Homes division at the end of 1985 and David Weeks became manager of Citizens on January 1, 1986. A former Albion fireman and fire marshal, Weeks is the son of John M. Weeks, Homestead Savings and Loan’s secretary from 1944 to 1951, and great-grandson of Homestead’s original attorney, Monfort D. Weeks. Citizens Lumber Company is the only lumber firm remaining in the City of Albion today. P127

Source: Frank Passic. Homestead Savings and Loan and the Builders of Albion: One Hundred Years of Service, 1889-1989. Albion, MI: Homestead Savings and Loan Association. 1988.

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