The story of the Shumacher family and Schumacher Construction Company is best described in the Schumacher family history, written by Mrs. Patricia (Robert) Geyer, under the heading, “The Building Story.” Shewrites:
Albion had a building boom in 1888. St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, South Superior Street, the old firstMethodist Church on Erie Street, and the first units of the new Gale ManufacturingCompany, plus about 100 houses were started or completed. Carl L. and son built the Lutheran Church and the Gale works, and did work on many other of these buildings.
After finishing the work at the Gale, Carl L. stayed on there as foreman for eight years. Fred bought the Sutherland grocery store at the northeast corner of Superior and Cass Streets and he worked there for four years before returning to mason work.
In 1893 Fred and his brother Carl A. Schumacher started working together in construction; they laid out the foundation andbuildings for the Keenan and Hiss foundry (later the Lonegran Manufacturing Company and finally the McGraw Edison Plant on North Clark Street). The youngest Schumacher brother, Alber L., was working on this job as well.
In 1893, the elder Mr. Shumacher, with his sons, built the foundations for the South Superior Streetbridge, just north of thecemetery. They also laid the foundations and worked on the brick work for the first units of theAlbion Malleable Iron Plant. Most of the cut stone foundations around town were done by the Schumachers or the Arndts. These men knew the grain of stone, and how to hit it so it would break clean. One could pound a stone all day, and not break it if he didn’t know how to do this.
In 1900, the three Schumachers held separate jobs. Albion’s population was about 4500 at that time. Carl A. built the Parker-Kessler block on the northwest corner of Superior and Cass Streets next to the Superior Street bridge. Fred was put in charge of keeping the city’s miles of wooden sidewalks repaired. That must have been quite a job, for building wooden sidewalks was finally banned that year and cement sidewalks were required after that. Most of the cement sidewalks in town were put in by the Lohrke brothers.
Carl L. had the contract for building the Superior Street bridge in the business section of downtown. Quoting his son Fred W., “Building that bridge was the center of controversy with a thunderous aftermath. No piling was called for in the contract; but an investigation of the river had convinced Father Shumacher that piling would be needed to properly support the structure. But Mayor C.W. Dalrymple objected to any additional expenditure. Mr. Schumacher sank $200 worth of piles anyway. In the flood of March 1908, part of the bridge collapsed where there had been no piling, with disastrous results.”
The Schumacher’s were in Zanesville, Ohio, from November 7, 1900 until December 1, 1901, building the “Y” bridge there. Carl A. had the contract from the American Bridge Company, and Fred and Carl L. went down to help. It spanned theMuskegon and Liking rivers and has been described in publications about famous bridges as the only “three-ended bridge in existence.” One could cross this bridge and still be on the same side of the river!
While the family was in Zanesville, the elder Schumacher contracted pneumonia and died, ending a long career, and a legacy of many buildings and bridges.
After returning to Albion from Zanesville, Carl A. supervised the building of the residence of Harry B. Parker, then president of Albion Malleable Iron Company. This is the Georgian brick residence at the northeast corner of Michigan Avenue and Huron Street, which is now owned by Albion college.
In 1901, Fred W. was the boss on the building of the Albion College GassetteLibrary. This was later used as the administration building, (before beingdemolished in 1998 to make way for a new administration building). The contractor was William M. Loder, a local lumber yard owner and builder at that time.
In 1919 the Schumacher Construction Company was formed by Fred W. Schumacher as president in partnership with his son, Albert F. Schumacher, and son-in-law John Geyer, and the family continued in the construction business. Fred’s brother Albert L. Schumacher had worked off and on with his brothers, and for himself in the years before as a carpenter-builder, and at this time worked for the construction company as a supervisor and carpenter on various projects, especially during the 1920’s and 1930’s. He was considered to be one of Albion’s finest carpenter-cabinet makers. He built homes at 601 North Division Street, 816 North Superior Street, and 810 North Ionia Street.
Fred W. did the buying and bookkeeping, John Geyer took charge of all building, and Albert F. took charge of all masonry work.All three worked on figuring for the contracts. “If F.W. built it, it was built to stay!” was their reputation. They never shorted on materials. John Geyer’s brother George had returned from World War I, and had worked awhile at the Malleable, and then went to work as a carpenter for the construction company until his death in 1935. He helped both in construction and supervision.
After Fred W. Schumacher’s death in 1943, his son Albert F. continued working in construction on his own in Albion. Albert L., Fred’s brother, and the last of the four sons of Carl L. Schumacher, became the shop manager of the Albion Lumber Company. John Geyer became manager of the Albion Lumber company, and then owner with his son RobertGeyer in 1946. They continued building homes and some factories until the lumber yard was closed in 1966. This lumber yard had earlier been associated with theSchumacher Construction Company, since Fred W. had owned part of it. (Patricia Geyer. The Building Story. Unpublished Manuscript.)
Some of the men who worked for the Schumacher Construction Company on various jobs through the yearsincluded: William Chaucherty, Leon Claucherty, Harry Beilfuss, George Duboick, Ed Pieske, Paul Knopp, Guy Van Wert, Frank Kreger, Howard Gillespie, Herb Neitzke, Carl Hakes, John Hakes, Merl Gillette, Robert Luedtke, William Ludtke, and others. At times as many as seventy-five men worked for the Schumachers.
Records of the Schumacher Construction Company were carefully kept, down to the last pound of nails. This is a list of some of the construction projects the Schumacher Construction Company did, compiled from the office ledgers and bookkeeping records of Robert J. Geyer, son of John Geyer, and grandson of Frederick W. Schumacher.
1918, Albion Public Library, 501 South Superior Street
1919,Albion Malleable Iron Company additions, 601 N. Albion
1920,Hayes Wheel addition, Jackson
1921-22,Trinity Lutheran Church, Jackson
1922,Fred Gress Home, 310 East Michigan Avenue
1922,Schumacher Cottage at Duck Lake
1923,Albion Comfort Station, Superior Street (demolished)
1923-24,Brooks Memorial Church, Marshall (now the Civic Center)
1923-24, Sheldon Memorial Hospital, 803 South Superior Street (opened May 1, 1924)
1923,Started Service Caster Plant near Albion Malleable
1924,Addition to the Service Caster Plant
1924-25,George Bullen Home, 101 Irwin Avenue
1924-25, Susanna Wesley Hall, Albion College
1925,Marshall Hospital addition
1925-26, Kresge Gymnasium, Albion College
1926,John Geyer home, 306 Michigan Avenue
1926,Albert F. Schumacher home, 413 Burr Oak Street
1926-27, Washington Gardner School “A” unit
1927,Service Caster Company
1928, Gale Manufacturing Companyaddition, Albion Street
1928,Remodeled St. Paul’s Lutheran church, South Superior Street
1929, Decker Manufacturing Company, 703 North Clark Street
1929,Gale Company addition, Albion Street
1929,Salem Church Sunday school addition, 113 West Pine Street
1929,Service Caster Company
1930,Willow Ridge Golf Course, Newburg Road
Other buildings by the Schumacher Construction Company, F.W. Schumacher, or John Geyer include:
Pine and Clinton Streets, Austin Grade School
219 E. Michigan Avenue, F.W. Schumacher home, (torn down and replaced by Clark gas station)
307-309 N. Monroe Street, moved and remodeled by FWS
302 N. Superior St., Albion Floor Covering store
113 N. Superior St, Seeleyes
111 N. Superior St, Siler’s
612 Irwin Avenue, E.C. Godfrey home
E.Erie Street, Dean Hall, rebuilt 1936-1937
E. Cass Street at Ingham Street, Louis R. Fiske home, foundations by Carl L.
507 E. Cass Street, Catholic Church, foundation by Schumacher and sons
Sear store, Superior and Ash Streets (demolished and replaced by Homestead Saving and Loan)
409 Allen Place, Home
409 Brockway Place, Home
Robinson Hall, rebuilt after fire
118 N. Superior Street, Albion Paint spot building
S. Superior Street, Standard Oil Station
The Episcopal rectory
WCTU building (burned and demolished)
420 S. Hannah Street
Alpha Chi Omega Lodge (demolished), corner of Hannah and Jackson Streets
Sigma Chi Fraternity House (demolished), First house built in Michigan to be used as a fraternity.
Old Gymnasium, Foundation stone work by the Arndts, demolished 1987
711 N. Superior Street, Carl Schumacher home
Gas storage tanks near Eaton and Clinton Streets (demolished)
Austin Avenue, Factory housing for the Albion Malleable
113 W. Pine Street (older part), Salem Church, Schumacher’s did the brick and stone work.
Darrow Boat Company building (demolished). Clinton Street, across river from City Hall
Austin Avenue, Michigan Electric Railway Company car shops (burned)
Albion City Band Shell, supervised by Albert Schumacher for the WPA
112 West Cass St., Albion City Hall, basement and foundation by Fred W. and Albert F. Schumacher
202 Norwood Street, Fred Blanchard home, by John Geyer for the Wilder Lumber Company
600 S. Superior Street, William Harton home, by John Geyer for the Wilder lumber Company
Corner Superior and River St., first house by John Geyer
10045 28 Mile Rd.,Russell Miller house, last house John Geyer built for a customer
202 Norwood Street, John Geyer house, last house by John Geyer
422 Brockway Place,Bellman house, one of the last built by Schumacher Construction Company
1120 Perry Street, Ernest Gray house, by John Geyer
905 S. Superior Street, A.T. Halford house, by John Geyer
100 Luther Boulevard, Large wood cross over alter, by John Geyer
Lonegran warehouse, by John Geyer (demolished)
Albion Malleable factory houses, by Schumacher Construction Company
E. Erie St., Archie Young home
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.