Albion Interactive History

Albion Interactive History / People

Norman H. Wiener
27th Mayor, 1931-1944 and 1949-1954


City of Albion Mayor, Term 1 +

Accomplishments as Mayor, Term 1

City of Albion Mayor, Term 2 +

Accomplishments as Mayor, Term 2

Many older Albion residents remember Albion’s “go-gettingest mayor,” Norman H.Wiener (1891-1962), who served as mayor 1931-1944, and 1949-1954. He was knownfor bringing in Federal funds for various WPA projects during the Great Depression. TheKalamazoo River retaining wall, the Victory Park Band Shell, City Hall, and the 1940brick Superior Street are examples of the results of his funding successes. But what didMayor Wiener do for a living?

Mayor Wiener was a native of Neschoiz, Russia, and arrived in the U.S. at New York atthe age of 16 on the ship Pennsylvania on December 16, 1907. He first settled in ThreeRivers, and also lived a short time in Battle Creek. On his 1909 Declaration of Intentionapplication to become a U.S. citizen, he was living in East Lansing as a student, nodoubt at Michigan Agricultural College. Wiener arrived in Albion the following year.Wiener established a scrap iron and general waste material business here under thename of Albion Iron & Metal Company. He eventually became one of the largest dealersof such material in southern Michigan. One 1925 reference stated, “Mr. Wiener is anexponent of the doctrine of conservation of resources.”

The Albion Iron & Metal Company was originally located at 111 N. Clinton St., one blockwest of downtown Albion. This was on the west side of the street north of the KalamazooRiver, approximately where the “Stitch ‘N Stuff” T-shirt business building is located todayat 201 N. Clinton St. Wiener purchased the site in 1912 and erected a new officebuilding there in 1913.

In July 1923 Wiener purchased the Frank E. Nowlin grain elevator building across thestreet on the southeast corner of N. Clinton and Michigan Sts., and moved his businessthere. He also ran the N. H. Wiener Coal Company, and at one time employed about 20men. Wiener was in partnership with D. Richard McAuliffe from 1944 to 1951 in bothfirms. During this period the company went into the steel brokerage business. It wouldpurchase steel in other communities and have it shipped directly “on site” to an industryneeding it. The coal/fuel business was discontinued in the early 1950s.Beginning in 1952, Wiener was associated with his son-in-law, Victor S. Burstein in thesteel brokerage business. Burstein (also another Albion Mayor) became president of thecompany upon Wiener’s death in 1962. Today the former Albion Iron & Metal Companyis the site of Gardner Casters & Wheels, 210 N. Clinton St. The building is called theWiener Building, and you can see the date of 1910 in front on top. This is the date Wiener came to Albion and founded his company, not the date the building was erected.

Historically, Frank Nowlin had purchased the site in 1912, erected his elevator and helda grand opening in May, 1913. The present facade was added in 1954 at the time theadjoining Tom Maker Supermarket was constructed.

This week we present a photograph of Wiener’s original 1913 office building on the westside of N. Clinton St. The sign states, “Norman H. Wiener, Rags, Rugger, Paper, Iron,Hides & Fur.” Notice the manufactured gas storage tanks of the Albion Gas LightCompany in the background, which were located to the west on N. Eaton St.After Wiener moved across the street, his former 1913 office building was used by theAlbion Bolt Company. It then served as the headquarters for the D. C. Boyd CoalCompany during the 1930s and 1940s. During the early 1950s it was the headquartersof Frank Birney’s Albion Truck & Storage Company, a moving firm. The building wasdemolished in the summer of 1954 to be used as a parking lot for the new Maker IGASupermarket which opened across the street.

Source: Frank Passic, NORMAN H. WIENER BUILDING JUST WEST OF DOWNTOWN, Albion Recorder, February 2, 1998

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.