One day after walking my dog along the Lansing River Trail I ended up in Moores’ Park. I like to visit the park in the fall to look at the leaves, sit on the stands for the pool and just enjoy the view of river, park and the Eckert Power Plant. I know weird, but the Eckert Power Plant is an interesting structure to see, especially in the fading light of a late fall day. So, since I was in Moores Park, I decided to explore the homes that James Henry Moores owned in Lansing. It has been difficult to trace where J. H. Moores lived prior to the construction of the home at 303 W. Allegan. The 1873 Lansing City Directory listed a J Henry Mores as residing with Rev. J. Evarts Weed, east of Pennsylvania Avenue. Rev. Weed was the pastor for the First Presbyterian Church in Lansing for five years, 1865-1870 and then became a partner with J.H. Moores in his land business. Moores’ next residence was on Kalamazoo Street, the 1878 Lansing City Directory has Moores living on the southside of Kalamazoo, just east of Chestnut Street, no image of the house survives. The first home that we can identify with Moores, is the house he had built at 303 W. Allegan Street, across from the Capitol. A location that was one of the prime building sites in the city and Moores home did not disappoint.

303 W. Allegan, Lansing, MI.

In this image the you can see the entrance on the side, the random pattern of the fieldstone foundation and if you look closely the third-floor porch on the tower.

The magnificent an architecturally original home at 303 W. Allegan was designed by Jackson architect, Lemuel Dwight Grosvenor for James H. Moores in 1885-1885. Below is a description of the Moores’ home published from the State Republican in 1886.

A MODEL HOME

The New Residence of Mr. J.H. Moores on Allegan Street

“Many handsome homes have been erected in Lansing this year, but by all odds the most striking exterior is that of Mr. J.H. Moores’ new residence, at the corner of Allegan and Townsend streets, which reached completion this week. The building is a novel combination of the Northern and Southern styles of architecture. The venture was a daring one, but it has proved successful and picturesque in the extreme.

At the northwest [northeast] corner is a tower following many of the Norman lines; on the east side is an Oriental oriel tower; everywhere there are cosy [cozy] porches, odd little balconies and graceful angles. There are no weak sides to the structure. From whatever side or corner, it is viewed the effect is equally pleasing. The building is painted a rich dark red with dark olive-green trimmings, and the foundation walls, which are of fieldstone square but left rock-faced, are laid in a novel hit-or-miss pattern.

The interior is probably the handsomest in the city. The front entrance  at the side of the oriel tower connects with a large hall finished in cherry, and from this hall open the dining room, reception room, parlor and library. Wide sliding doors enable the family to instantly transform all these into a magnificent suite, and with the single exception of the library all are furnished with extremely handsome fireplaces.

The dining room is finished in black walnut, the others in cherry, the fireplaces in the parlor and reception room have mohoganized cherry mantels with tile work and oxidized brass mountings. The windows are broad, low and deep. In the reception room a pretty bit of art in the shape of a small window of stained glass depicts Cupid amid the flowers. The pantry, kitchen, china closet, and the smaller rooms are finished in the natural color of the wood.

The front stairway with its rich cherry mountings, occupies the oriel tower, a stained-glass window at the first landing adding materially to its attractive appearance. There are four large front chambers on the second floor, fitted with handsome fire places in rich marbleized slate and affording magnificent views of the city from their numerous windows. In the rear are the bathrooms and smaller sleeping rooms.

The building is provided with every possible convenience in the shape of dressing rooms, closets, hot and cold water, gas and electric bells. The cellar runs the entire length of the house, and is divided into laundry, coal room, furnace room and vegetable cellar. The masonry was done by Chittenden, the building by Fuller & Wheeler and the painting by Voiselle & Larose. Most of the timber used in the structure was taken from Mr. Moores’ pine lands in Northern Michigan.” (SR 10/15/1886)

This must have been a fascinating home to see in its prime, especially the interior. There is so much going on, architecturally it is overwhelming.

A poor image of the Moores’ home. Note the two balconies on the facade and the Oriental oriel tower. I have no idea why this was described as an Oriental oriel tower? It is an oriel window. Note the hood over the front porch entrance, it resembles a witch’s cap normally seen on a tower, here it is a quartered segmented covering that many have served as an ornamental detail versus a functional one.

In October of 1893, James exchanged his home at 303 W. Allegan for one at 501 S. Washington with Cornelius A. Gower. Why? Well it may have been a result of the Panic of 1893 which resulted in a 43% unemployment rate in Michigan. In 1893 there was a run on gold, yes, the USA was on the gold standard, when the Reading Railroad Company, yes, the one in Monopoly, went in to receivership triggering the run on gold. Over 500 banks closed, businesses failed, and farmers simply stopped farming. The result was a migration to cities by the rural poor. Detroit’s Mayor Hazen S. Pingree instituted a public works program in the city for the unemployed and created the Pingree’s Potato Patch, which allowed citizens to farm lots in the city. Seems like history always repeats itself. Turner, in his history of Ingham County suggested the Panic of 1896 as the reason for Moores’ financial ruin. The Panic of 1896 was for all practical purposes a continuation of the Panic of 1893.(Turner 573) No image of the Gower home at 501 S. Washington survives, the home on South Washington was torn down in 1890-1891 to erect the Glaister building.

In the image you can see the roof cresting with finials across the roof’s ridge line. Does the front of the home seem unbalanced with the location of the porch on the side and the small windows under the second-floor and third-floor balconies?

An enlargement of the facade of Moores’ home on Allegan Street. Note the third-floor balcony with its large supports and the spaced spindles on the balustrade, an element that is not up to code today. You can also observe the paintwork on the third-floor fish-scale siding, repeated on the face of the front gables.

Cornelius A. Gower

So, who was the man that J.H. Moores traded houses with. Cornelius A. Gower was born in Abbott, Maine on July 30, 1845, the son of Cornelius N. and Abigail (née Hawes) Gower. He attended Colby University in Waterville, Maine, and the University of Michigan where he graduated with a degree in Literature in 1867 and law in 1869. After graduation he accepted a position as principal of the public schools in Fenton and three years later became Superintendent of the Genesee County School system, a position he held until 1871. In 1871 he became Superintendent of the Saginaw Public Schools. In 1878 Gower was appointed the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, by Governor Croswell a posting Gower retained until 1881 when he became Superintendent of the Boys Industrial School, a situation he kept until 1892. After leaving the Boys Industrial School Gower served as Vice President of the Capitol Savings & Loan Company. On September 12, 1871 Cornelius married Miss Dora L. Walton in Fenton, Michigan, the couple had three children; Helen D., Charles A., and Clara A. Gower. Cornelius  died at his residence in the Porter Apartments on Thursday, January 14, 1932. See LSJ 1/15/1932 and Portrait & Biographical Album 248.

Architect Bowd’s design for the Wolverine Insurance Company and Michigan Employers’ Casualty Company building at 300 W. Allegan. (LSJ 5/26/1921)

The Wolverine Insurance Company purchased the home from the Gower estate in 1920 and remodeled the structure to serve as their headquarters. In 1921 the business engaged the services of architect, Edwyn A. Bowd to design a new building for the company to be situated on the property after the home was torn down. The structure was never built due to cost, a smaller Wolverine Insurance Company building was constructed at 232 S. Capitol in 1924-1925. The home at 303 W. Allegan was torn down in May of 1926 with little fanfare, the structure took over 30 days to tear down because the Lansing Housewrecking Company was stripping the building of the white pine, cherry and other specialty woods used in the home’s construction. The site was briefly the home of a Y.M.C.A. playground until it was replaced by the new Lansing Post Office and Federal Building that currently occupies the site. (LSJ6/1/1926)

Coming soon. Moores’ financial recovery and his home at 500 Townsend.

©Lost Lansing 2019

Ha. 19 beached on Oahu, US Territory of Hawaii, 8 Dec 1941

In the early hours of December 7, 1941, the Japanese midget submarine, HA. 19 (I-24tou) was launched from its parent sub I-24 with the mission to penetrate the defenses of the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor and attack the warships at anchor.[1] But the HA. 19 had a serious problem, it had a broken gyrocompass an instrument that was crucial for the navigation of the submarine. The submarine had a just two crew members, Ensign Kazuo Sakamaki and Chief Warrant Officer Kiyoshi Inagaki, they managed to maneuver their submarine to the entrance of Pearl Harbor but grounded the sub three times on a reef. The attack on Pearl Harbor was at its height at this time, the stricken submarine was spotted by the destroyer, USS Helm which blasted the sub off the reef but did not manage to sink the sub. Eventual the sub was disabled after it grounded on a different reef. At that point Sakamaki and Inagaki abandon the sub, Inagaki drown but Sakamaki managed to swim to shore and became the first enemy combatant captured by United States forces in WWII.[2] Days later the submarine was dragged onto the shore by a tractor and eventually moved to Pearl Harbor.

The HA. 19 on view in front of the Michigan State Capitol

The HA. 19 was transported, by the Navy Department, to various cities around the United States to raise money for War Bonds. On June 21, 1943, Claude Erickson, the chairman of the War Savings Committee announced that the HA. 19 was to be displayed in front of the Capitol between 3:30 and 10 pm on July 16, 1943.[3] The fund-raising event was sponsored by the Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees). The Navy Department had cut away part of the side of the submarine and installed glass windows to allow people to view the interior of the sub. For the purchase of a 25¢ war savings stamp, a child could mount the special catwalk and examine the interior of the submarine through the glass, an adult needed to purchase a $1 stamp to view the interior. (LSJ6/22/1943)

Note the side glass windows on the submarine, which allowed people who donated to the drive to view the interior of the sub. The Navy also placed two mannequins in the sub to represent the crew.

Unfortunately, when the HA. 19 visited Lansing, the weather played a part in the viewing. There was rain throughout the day and threatening weather in the evening, which kept the number of visitors to about 4000. In the afternoon, the Boys’ Vocational School Band provided the music for the event, while in the evening the Army Air Corps band from Michigan State College played. The Jaycees raised $4475.25 for War Bonds that day.(LSJ 7/17/1943) To put that in perspective, when the sub visited the Washington D.C. area on April 3, 1943, $40,000 was raised in a little over 20 minutes with a total of $1,061,650 by the end of the day.

[1]See World War II Databasefor an explanation of the naming of Japanese midget submarines.

[2]For a full account of the role of HA. 19 see the article in Wikipedia, HA. 19 (Japanese Midget Submarine).

[3]The Erickson Power Station is located in Delta Township, is named after Claude Erickson.

©Lost Lansing 2018

The home at 620 Townsend Street appeared in the architectural survey, Memorandum “76, which was one of the earliest attempts to make Lansing residents and elected officials aware of the exceptional buildings that still existed in Lansing in 1976. The survey documented 110 architecturally significant structures the committee felt that reflected the unique history of Lansing. Of the 110 structures/areas described in the work, more then 30% have been torn down in the past forty years a shocking number.[1]

The earliest photograph of the Montgomery residence at 620 [612] Townsend. Not the small oriel window on the second floor on the southside of the home, it is to the left in the above image. The addition below it was added after 1913.

The State Republicanin September of 1893 stated that a new residence was being built for Judge Robert M. Montgomery at 620 [612] Townsend Street. (SR9/12/1893) There was no other information provided in the article and no architect or builder was noted.[2]The extensive front porch can be observed, it has the square over rectangle pattern as well as the recessed entrance porch. In all likelihood the front porch at one point had a covering.

An expanded view of the windows on the home.

Observe the two-story oriel window, see how the window forms a parapet for the third story window. Speaking of windows observe the glass block windows on the second floor of the oriel windows capped by the diamond pattern on the third-floor windows. There is also an ornate pattern on the parapet between the second and third floor windows, that mimics the square pattern found on the porch.  Alongside of the oriel window is an oval window which seems to have a pattern that cannot be made out, or its simply a curtain covering the window.

 

In the above 1906 Sanborn image you can see that 620 [612] Townsend has an extensive porch that wrapped around near the entrance, compare the porch to the first photograph of the home.

The Montgomery home was a captivating structure that had several architectural features. The one that catches the eye is the heighten gambrel dormer, I have only seen this style dormer in only one other house in Lansing at 301 N. Walnut, the M. J. Buck house which had an open dormer, as opposed to a closed dormer that was present at the Montgomery home. One thing that is odd is the stacking of the windows on the facade, four over five (or seven depending how you count) over four, an odd pattern that results in an unbalanced front of the home.

Ok this is a really bad image of 620 Townsend, the first question which comes to mind is that we now live in the 21stCentury and we have yet to bury powerlines? Undoubtedly the photograph of the home was taken early in the day, which resulted in the massive amount of sunlight along the facade of the home.

In the above image the sunroom addition to the south of the home can be observed as well as the wing added to the rear of the residence. Both were added sometime after 1913 and before 1926 based upon data from the Sanborn Maps. Note the palladium window on the third-floor gable end. One other interesting aspect of the home are the small windows at the peak ok of each gable, these were not present in the first image of the house. Were these windows or vents? The home was sold to Edgar M Thorpe in 1910-1911 and ten years later to Alexander Brownell Cullender Hardy, ABC Hardy as the home was so often referred to in newspaper and historical accounts. The home was purchased by Michigan Conference of Seventh Day Adventists in 1940. (LSJ6/2/1940) Just when the house at 620 Townsend was torn down is yet to be determined. But I can tell you this, the site is now the location of, wait you know what I am going to say don’t you, a parking lot! Almost wants to make you cheer or cry. Well at least we won the Golden Crater Award.

Robert M. Montgomery 1849-1920

Robert Morris Montgomery was born in Eaton Rapids Township on May 12, 1849 to Johnson and Elvira (née Dudley) Montgomery. Robert grew up on the family farm attending the local schools. At the age of 15 Robert enlisted in the Michigan Seventh Cavalry Regiment, Company I on August 22, 1864, he was discharged three months later due to illness. After leaving the army, Robert taught school in the winter months and farmed during the summers, it was at this time that he decided to become a lawyer. He secured a position to study law under Frederick J. Russell in Hart, Michigan, and on July 25, 1870 Robert was admitted to the bar in Grand Haven, Michigan. Soon after passing the bar, Robert opened a law office in Pentwater, Michigan and in 1872 was elected Prosecuting Attorney for Oceana County, he was reelected in 1874. Three years later, he was appointed Assistant United States Attorney for the Western District and moved to Grand Rapids. Robert married Miss Theodosia C. Wadsworth on December 23, 1873, in Pentwater, Michigan. The couple had two children; Morris W. and Stanley B. Montgomery. In 1881, Robert was elected as a judge to the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit Court and was reelected in 1887. Shortly after his reelection, he resigned his position and established a law practice with McGeorge Bundy. He was nominated by the Republican Party to run for the Michigan Supreme Court, he was elected and was seated on January 1, 1892. In 1909 Robert became a candidate for Governor but lost the Republican nomination to Chase Osborn. President Taft appointed Robert to be the Chief Justice of the United States Court of Customs Appeals a position he held until his death on June 27, 1920. For more information on Robert’s life see Men of Progress 117 and the LSJ 6/28/1920.

[1]At a later date the buildings in Memorandum “76 will be examined. The 30% figure may grow, there needs to be a thorough review of the document and the buildings cited in the book.

[2]The original address of the home was 612 Townsend the address changed in 1905-1906 to 620 Townsend when Lansing renumbered street addresses for the last time.

©Lost Lansing 2018