Leon Claucherty, 1897
Died September 5, 1986
Stone Mill renovation, 1916
Wilcox Cottage, Starr Commonwealth
Robinson Hall reconstruction, Albion College, 1923
Kresge Gymnasium, Albion College
Susanna Wesley Hall, Albion College, 1925
Albion High School east wing, Public Schools, 1926
Washington Gardner High School, 1928
Bohm Theatre, 1929
City Hall, 112 W. Cass, 1933-1935
Victory Park Band Shell
509 Lynn Street
403 S. Superior, 1931
One of Albion’s longest serving carpenters of the 20th century was Leon Claucherty. He was born November 8, 1897, in Ingham County, and came to Albion in October 1911, from Ceresco after his father William obtained a job at the T.C. Prouty Co. on North Clark Street.
Claucherty’s construction career began in 1916, when he joined the Renniger Construction Company, headquartered in Marshall. That firm was engaged to reconstruct the old Jesse Crowell stone mill into the new headquarters of the Commercial & Saving Bank. Claucherty pointed with mortar the south wall of the bank, a job which can still be seen today. He also helped set the huge columns in front of the bank. While still working for the Renniger Company, Claucherty helped build the Wilcox Cottage and high school buildings at Starr Commonwealth for Boys.
Claucherty was involved in many big construction projects in Albion. He worked for several contractors, particularly the Schumacher construction Company, in addition to being self employed. His first job with the Schumacher firm was rebuilding Robinson Hall at Albion College in 1923. Claucherty and his brother William bravely climbed to the roof of that structure and built the cupola on top. He also helped construct the Kresge Gymnasium at the college.
Other projects he was involved in include Susanna Wesley Hall (1925), Albion High School east wing (1926),Washington Gardner High School (1928), the entrance way and exits at the Bohm Theatre (1929), City Hall (1933-1935), and the Victory Park Band Shell. Claucherty made the forms for the band shell and the adjacent Victory Park tennis courts.
Claucherty built numerous homes in Albion during his lifetime, including his own at 509 Lynn Street. He recalled the circumstances surrounding the approval of his home loan by Homestead Loan and Building Association, in an interview with Frank Passic shortly before his death:
I didn’t have any trouble. When I got a loan, I had the roof on this place, I remember. I went down and applied for a loan. At that time there wasn’t anything between my house and the corner. When they came to appraise it, they drove by on Syndenham street and approved it. They didn’t even come to the house.
Leon constructed his home with materials from numerous demolition jobs, making his home rich in Albion history. The floor beams under the front porch came from the Albion High School when it burned in 1926, as did the lumber for the ceiling of the porch. A portion of the attic floor was constructed with lumber obtained from the Jesse Crowell home, demolished in 1925 to make way for the Susanna Wesley Hall at Albion College. A beautiful rose arbor was constructed from a window arch from the old Crowell residence.
Claucherty has had a long and cordial relationship with Homestead Loan and Building Association and its officers. “They were awful good to me,” he stated, recalling the Depression years. Claucherty was often given the job of repairing homes owned by the Association, particularly roofing jobs. That helped provide employment, which helped him make loan payments on his own house. When asked why Homestead often hired his for carpentry and roofing jobs, he quipped,
I had a telephone. There weren’t very many carpenters that had a telephone. About the time I was going to have the telephone taken out, somebody would call up and I would get a job. Since from the time the telephone was put in in 1929, until now, it has never been disconnected.
When asked to recall an interesting memory about Homestead, Claucherty reminisced about a hailstorm which occurred in the early 1930s:
I don’t know if it was Wolcott or Linn when the hailstorm came through here, but I patched roof after roof with this plastic stuff. Whoever was in office at that time made the remark if I couldn’t patch it, they’d better get a new roof. Back in the ’30s when times were hard, I did a lot of roof repairing.
Claucherty was one of the numerous area carpenters hired to build the Association’s new headquarters at 403 S. Superior Street in 1931.In his later years, Leon worked in partnership with his son Howard in the firm of Leon Claucherty & Son. Howard had learned a carpentry trade from his father, and continued in the business after his father retired at age 65. Howard became Albion building inspector in 1985. Although he retired at age 65, Leon Claucherty continued to accept part-time jobs in carpentry for many years. He died September 5, 1986, at age 88.
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.