January 3, 2017
The Ludington Center, Albion College’s latest connection between the College and the City of Albion, officially opened January 3.
Located at 101 N. Superior St. in a renovated building constructed in 1900 that is adjacent to Albion City Hall, the Ludington Center will be the new home for several College organizations as well as a community career and internship center, and includes classroom and meeting space.
“This can be viewed in two ways,” said Andrew French, the College’s director of community action and the building’s manager. “It can be viewed as a College building where the community participates, or it can be viewed as a community building where the College participates. We want to make it a community place. We want our community to think of this space as a place where they collaborate, with each other or with folks who work at the College, on all sorts of projects.”
French said the Ludington Center is the latest downtown project – following the Kids ‘N’ Stuff Children’s Museum in 2002 and the Bohm Theatre renovation in 2014, and ahead of the Courtyard Marriott hotel, currently under construction – to bring the community and the College together.
“This will provide an opportunity for citizens and students of Albion to make it a better place,” he said.
The College’s connection with the town received national attention last month when The Wall Street Journal featured Albion in a story about how struggling communities and the colleges that reside there are working together to improve each other.
French said the Ludington Center is a classic example of how that partnership is working.
“President (Mauri) Ditzler has always had a vision of a stronger collaboration effort with the town, and this building is that,” he said.
A project two years in the planning, the $3 million renovation was spearheaded by Saginaw doctor and developer Sam Shaheen, a 1988 Albion graduate, and is named in honor of 1951 graduates Jack and Dorothy Ludington.
Jack, who became chairman and CEO of Dow Corning Corp. and was a longtime member of the College’s Board of Trustees, met Dorothy as a student at Albion; the couple maintained a long relationship with their alma mater, of which their three children – Thomas, ’76, Laura, ’78, and Annie, ’82 – are also graduates.
Shaheen, who has also taken the lead in helping to finance the new hotel one block south of the Ludington Center, said at the October dedication that he hopes the new center is only the beginning in the downtown’s revival.
“I consider (the Ludington Center) one piece of the puzzle,” he said. “I’m hoping this is the first project in a line of things that can be done in Albion.”
The building’s first occupants, French said, will be the Albion AmeriCorps Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA) team that has been in town since the summer and will remain for two more years to help expand capacity of area agencies with a focus on education, health and economic opportunities. The College’s Career and Internship Center will also make the move.
Over the next few weeks, the Build Albion Fellows program (which provides four-year College tuition, room and board to local students in exchange for community work and service) as well as elements of the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute for Business and Management and the Gerald R. Ford Institute for Leadership in Public Policy and Service will set up office space.
“I could not be happier or more proud of the fact that the Ludington Center is opening and ready to provide educational experiences for College and community members alike,” Ditzler said. “This is another step in the ongoing effort to make sure Albion College and the City of Albion continue to work together. Because when we do that, everyone succeeds.”
The Ludington Center also features two “smart” classrooms with 70-inch TV monitors, conference rooms and additional offices for future needs and first-floor open space that can host anything from class reunions to wedding receptions to school proms, according to French, noting that meetings have already been planned for this month.
There is also space set aside for the new Starr Commonwealth/Marshall Public Schools Resilient Communities Initiative as well as the College’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance program.
“There is no limit to what we want to provide,” French said.
Currently the Ludington Center is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; starting in mid-January, the hours will be expanded from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. For more information or to contact Andrew French about possible events or occupancy, please email him at or call 517/629-0701.