Albert Builders collection
Scope and Contents
Except for one small box of abstracts, photos and documents, all the material in this collection takes the form of architectural drawings. Most of these drawings are of single family residences and come in sets that include some or all of the following: elevations, floor plans and drawings of details such as heating and electrical systems, garages, kitchen cabinets and plot plans. The drawings span the years of the late 1930s to the late 1960s but the heaviest concentration is from the decade between 1955 and 1965. The predominant and typically only method the company used to identify these homes was a model name including, for example, “The Ashton,” “The Carlsburg” and “The Tupper.” Patrons searching for a home at a particular address or one built or owned by a particular individual will have more difficulty than those who know a model name to search for. Very few of the drawings are identified with an address though patrons should search the finding aid for a street name to find those that are. It is slightly more common to find drawings associated with an owner identified by surname or, less often, full name. Again the finding aid should be searched by surname to locate these.
Patrons not searching for a particular home, but having a broader interest in such topics as architecture, the construction of local homes, the development of local neighborhoods, or the work of this local business will find the collection rich in material but relatively narrow in scope. A researcher studying the post World War II building boom in Grand Rapids, for example, might find this collection only one of several resources necessary to consult since it contains many drawings of homes but little in the way of other documentation.
Users of this collection should be aware that there is a high degree of interrelatedness amongst the different models. Those interested in slight variations should explore other models, especially those with similar model names.
One small box of material other than drawings includes two photos of homes, one small folder of business documents and a set of abstracts. Among the business records is a job schedule for March 5, 1965, that would be useful in connecting a customer surname to a house model name and an address for a couple dozen Albert homes. The other business records, listed in the contents section, would provide a glimpse of insight into the Alberts business operations. The abstracts are for property in Paris Road Uplands, Paris Park No. 2 and Maple Row Plat.
- Albert Builders, Inc (Organization)
Biographical / Historical
The Albert Builders company was owned by three brothers who were born and raised in various places in Maine and Vermont. Silas, the eldest, graduated from Bowdoin College, served in WWI and moved to Grand Rapids in 1921. He roomed at the YMCA, worked briefly as a secretary of a tire company and then opened a real estate agency from an office in the Home State Bank Building. His brother, Samuel, graduated from Boston University in 1922 and, soon after, joined Silas in Grand Rapids. The name, Albert Realtors, appeared for the first time in a 1926 city directory and marked the addition of the third and youngest brother to the business. Harold graduated from Harvard in 1922 and worked for the Yale University Press before coming to Grand Rapids.
Besides their work as realtors, the brothers also developed areas of southeast Grand Rapids, Rockford and other places, as well as ventured into property management beginning during the Depression. In 1937, they branched into the mortgage and home building businesses. All three brothers married and raised children in Grand Rapids. They were active in trade associations, fraternal and civic organizations and at Temple Emanuel. They each died in Grand Rapids; Sam of a heart attack on the job in 1965, Harold in 1984 and Silas at age 90 in 1987. (For more information, see the Albert Builders clipping file)
26 Linear Feet (13 boxes plus flat files)
Language of Materials
The Albert Builders collection was received from J. Brock Albert in 1989. It is a large collection with the bulk of the material being drawings of single family homes that were designed by Albert Builders from the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s. Also included are abstracts for Paris Township for the 1950s.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
J. Brock Albert, accession number 1989.020.
- Finding aid for the Albert Builders collection
- Jennifer Morrison
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Processing funding provided by the Grand Rapids Public Library Foundation