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  • Board of Directors
  • Shirley Zeller,
    President
  • Carol Gnich,
    Vice-President
  • Gwen Tabb,
    Secretary
  • Harry Wilson,
    Treasurer
  • Cheryl Krause
  • Marcola Lawler
  • Scott Marvin
  • Don Masternak
  • Sheryl Mitchell
  • Jeannette Smiley
  • Marjorie Ulbrich
  • Ken Wheat
  • William Zeller

About Ismon House

Built in 1898-99, the Mary Sheldon Ismon House is a Historical and Architectural landmark. Located at 300 S. Clinton, the Ismon House is situated within Albion’s designated Historic District and is listed as an eligible property in a National Register of Historic Places.

The building is named after Mary Sheldon Ismon, nee Peabody (founding family of Albion). Mrs. Ismon was an independently wealth woman and an early member of the E.L.T. Club, a women’s literary and cultural group organized in 1890. The building was designed to provide meeting rooms for the E.L.T. Club, as well as rooms where her husband and his friends in the Gentlemen’s Leisure Hour Club could congregate. During its first 100 years, the Ismon House accommodated three main groups, a lending library until 1919 when the City of Albion built a new library, the E.L.T. Club until 1967, and the Leisure Hour Club until 1999.

On February 22, 1899, shortly after construction was completed, Mrs. Ismon deeded the building to the City of Albion with the stipulation that the E.L.T. Club and the Leisure Hour Club each be granted a 99-year lease. Thus in 1999, several events affected the status of the Ismon House: the Leisure Hour Club’s 99-year lease expired, the City of Albion assumed responsibility for the building, and city inspections revealed a number of code violations.

When ownership and responsibility for the building were assumed by the City of Albion and transferred to the Downtown Development Authority (DDA), a group of concerned citizens sought to undertake the rescue, restoration and adaptation of this Albion treasure. The first order of business was to organize under the name "Friends of the Mary Sheldon Ismon House." A professional feasibility study was undertaken. Unfortunately, the Board discovered that the cost of full restoration would be more than one million dollars. When it became clear to the Ismon Board that it could not raise such a large amount of money, more modest plans were developed to proceed with the restoration, floor by floor, relying on volunteer labor whenever possible.

It then became clear that the entire building needed to be totally "deconstructed" before attempting to rebuild. Once deconstruction was completed on all floors, the rebuilding work proceeded on a floor-by-floor basis. Using skilled volunteers and hiring local skilled tradesmen as needed, the first floor was completely and beautifully renovated and adapted to handicap-accessible restrooms, large meeting spaces, a commercial kitchen, an office, a restored fireplace, entryway, and an elevator. By mid-year 2006 the first floor was finished and "OPEN FOR BUSINESS." A few years later, the lower level was also completed for rental availability. New windows on all floors and a new roof have also been installed.

Now, in 2016, the Friends of the Ismon House, through a successful fundraising and a grant from the Michigan Historic Preservation Office, and help from the DDA, the third floor of the grand Ismon House is now completely renovated and ready for events. The third floor is a wide open area, great for receptions, etc, and includes a small kitchen area and a restroom. We are excited about the renovation and the opportunities it gives to our community.

The only project left to be completed is the renovation of the second floor which will include a small ballroom or meeting space and some other open space. If you'd like to assist in accomplishing the continuation of this project, please click the "Donate" button above to make your contribution. Thank you in advance.