ALBANY MURAL PROJECT
How many of you looking at this mural grew up in Albany and have memories of its many traditions? Maybe it was cheering on the basketball team at Albany High School, getting cherry sodas at Bach’s Drug Store, attending the annual Lion’s Club Halloween Parade, eating lunch at The Kream Kup, hitching a ride on the Interurban, or throwing an old pair of shoes up in The Shoe Tree around the Mile Square. Albany has always been a town with great people and great stories to go along with them. Some people were born here and never leave, some left for bigger opportunities, and others call Albany home in their adult years. Whatever your story is, it is a part of the Albany story, and what makes this town great. Take the opportunity today to create or remember a memory in our beautiful town of Albany.
INTERSECTION OF STATE & WATER
The Albany community has a very rich history filled with many traditions. Maybe the longest standing tradition is the Halloween parade which started back in 1937. Kids and parents alike line the sidewalks of State St and await the loud sirens of firetrucks and kids dressed in costumes. As a kid you were always tempted to run into the street to pick up the candy, and as a parent you were always worried about your kids getting run over by horses or whatever local politician was running for office that year. The Lion’s Club Halloween festivities started out earlier that day at Puterbaugh Park with the kid’s games. Tug of war, sack race, greased pig, egg toss, greased pole, all with the reward of cash prizes for the winners and vivid memories for friends to remember forever.
The Shoe Tree is a tradition that maybe has always existed and is still going strong to this day. Ever wonder who was the first person to throw their shoes, with shoestrings knotted together, up into that tree? Never wonder if you will be the last. Storms may make some shoes fall to the ground, but there is always another kid, with old shoes, riding their bike out to the Mile Square and throwing another pair up. As long as kids wear out shoes, this tradition will continue.
The Round Barn on County Road 800 E is a wonderful landmark just south of town. Some may recall it being out by the ¼ mile bridge where teenagers would drag race their cars between the two bridges. Later generations may recall the fictitious story of the guy who died because he could not find a corner to pee in. The sunsets in the country on the south side of town are amazing, and what a good conversation piece this Round Barn will continue to be.
INTERSECTION OF STATE & MAIN
In the late 1800’s, Albany’s population was around 500 people until we discovered natural gas. This discovery led to Albany attracting many factories, businesses, and people. By early 1900, Albany had grown in population to over 2,000 people. Some notable businesses that came to town were The Model Flint Glass Company, The Bartlett Hotel, North Baltimore Bottle Company, Buckeye Window Glass Company, and countless other small businesses from saloons to general stores. This natural gas supply quickly depleted, but the surge in business has lasting effects to this day.
One of the factories that was short lived was The Albany Automobile Company. John L Tulley produced the Albany Runabout from 1906-1908. This was an automobile produced here in town at the Grand Hotel, which sat just west of where the McCormick’s factory is located. It is said that up to 850 cars were produced within 2 years, and even Henry Ford made a visit to try and lure Mr. Tulley to Detroit. Imagine the excitement of an automobile being produced in town at a time where horses were the standard and paved roads were just over 10 years old. Albany did not even have streetlights until the late 1800’s thanks to the natural gas. Entrepreneurs of that time frame were brave men and women with bold ideas which pushed Albany forward.
INTERSECTION OF STATE & BROADWAY
Albany is not particularly known for its skyline but combine all buildings throughout history and it makes a great picture. From the blue water tower to Buck Moore standing guard with his dog. Buck is a man of legendary status. He served as town marshal for many years and even though he did not drive a car, he was feared by many. He always had an eye on the town and could often be seen in alleys or in the shadows making his presence known. Today people think they can hide or run from the police, but back then Buck knew where everyone lived and could keep kids and adults accountable.
The Methodist church has been a staple in the Albany skyline for many years. Everyone in town can recall the bell or music being played every Sunday morning before services. The church sits right in the middle of downtown where for many years was the only stoplight in town. Turn around, look behind you and admire this wonderful building. One of the most important historical markers in town sits just outside the church on the corner. The Centennial Boulder, laid in 1933, marks 100 years of Albany being a town, which was formed in 1833. Do you know someone that has attended this church? Been baptized there? Went to preschool there in the basement? Been married there?
The Teen Palace building sits just west of the Methodist church. Maybe you remember it as the bowling alley, or a furniture store. Before cell phones, everyone just cruised in their vehicles up and down State St seeing what everyone was up to. A central location in town made this the hot spot. Was it better to be seen at the Teen Palace or be seen driving by? All the high schoolers needed a place to go after a Friday night home basketball game, or a Saturday away game, and this was the place.
The fire station used to be located downtown as well with the fire whistle atop the building. Whenever there was a fire run, that whistle would blare through the buildings downtown. If you were lucky enough to be standing on State St between Water and Broadway when it went off, you were in for a real treat and would quickly need to cover your ears. The Albany Fire Department is essential to our town and averages about 300 runs per year. Everyone is a volunteer and I bet you know someone who has served or have needed their service during your life.
The McCormick Bros factory has been a longstanding part of the Albany skyline. Many people in the town have worked there at one time or another. The most recent memory is when they shut their doors without warning, but they also contributed to the World War II effort. From 1908-1978 this factory provided lots of jobs to our community manufacturing lots of kitchen accessories, etc. The nice thing about McCormick’s was that it was local. On lunch break you could go to Hall’s Restaurant or even to your home to eat with family. The town was a busy place during these lunch breaks and shift changes. Today our lives involve a lot more travel. During most of the 1900’s the kids went to school in town, the parents worked in town. Most of life was spent within the few square miles of our beautiful town. We lived, shopped, volunteered, went to church, served, went to school, all in our community.
The Model Flint Glass Company was short lived from 1893-1902, but employed, at its peak, about 250 people. Natural gas had been discovered and it led to many factories and businesses relocating to Albany. Working with glass was a dirty, labor intensive, and very hot job. The amount of glassware that was produced is astounding from such a small town. Imagine how hot the building must have been with the main furnace and many glory holes all hot enough to melt glass. The smell and the heat would have been something that would not be forgotten by its employees while the glassware produced is something that our town will not forget. In 2018, the Albany Glass Museum opened right across the street from where you are standing now, in the back of the Library building. This glass, made so many years ago, is still being collected and preserved as part of our town’s history. It was made in many different colors and many different patterns. There is even a pattern named Albany. Do you have a favorite pattern? Do you collect Albany Glass? I bet your grandparents did.
The local filling station has had many names and many brands of gas pumped throughout the years. Do you remember pulling up to the gas pump and getting full service? Your local attendant pumps your gas, washes your windshield, and checks your fluids. If you don’t, drive down to the corner of State & Plum and pull up to a gas pump because they still do it to this day. A small-town business keeping the traditions going of a slower, simpler life.
Albany High School is no longer a part of the skyline, but this building is burnt into the minds of many who attended. The final school bell rang in the spring of 1974. Many generations cheered on the basketball team, attended dances in the gym, and had a favorite teacher. The cheerleaders wore wool sweaters while most of the town showed up to cheer on the local team. Do you have a game you remember? Did you attend a school play? Many historical items from the high school still remain, from the large stone plaques on the river bank of Puterbaugh Park, to the Wildcat mascot uniform from 1973 on display at the Library/Glass Museum. Not having a high school in our town has changed it greatly, but the long-standing legacy lives on in this mural and the memories and stories of the many generations that attended.
INTERSECTION OF FIRST AND GRAY
This is the location of the Small Park and the former home of the blue water tower that was torn down in July of 2012. Since the water tower has come down this park has had some major upgrades from the big boat slide to the wonderful paintings on the fence. Young children during this era will have many memories of getting eaten by the big green T Rex or pretending to have butterfly wings. Of course, the parents will have all these pictures saved on their smartphones for the young ones to remember. Do you have a memory at this park? Know someone that climbed the water tower? If you don’t have a memory, now is the time to create one. Walk up to the fence, get out your smartphone, and create a memory that will last forever.
STATE ST JUST EAST OF THE METHODIST CHURCH
This mural has been restored and was originally painted back in the 1950’s. Some of you may remember this building as Washburn’s Grocery, or Gamester’s, or the laundry mat which is still in operation there. Small businesses have always been a part of Albany history. In years past, you could live, go to school, shop, eat all within the city limits. With advancements in cars, phones, and the loss of the high school, our lives are more stretched out and we travel further distances. The restoration of this mural reminds us of our childhood, of past businesses, of our beautiful town of Albany that has a rich history in tradition. Most importantly we have the people dedicated to keeping these memories and traditions alive for future generations.