Architect

A view of the 900 N. Washington looking east of Jefferson Avenue before it was renamed. Note the trees in the distance where the Oakland Avenue bridge stands today. 

It is time for a brief confession, I drive around the city of Lansing a lot and in my wanderings, I have come across many architectural gems and a few oddities. For example, in the above image you can observe a carriage house, just to the left of the home. The carriage house in the image is still standing, one of the few that remain in Lansing. It would be a worthwhile project to one day, locate, inventory and photograph the carriage houses that remain in the city.

Several times a week I drive by the corner of Washington and Oakland Avenues and years ago I noticed that the lot on the north-east corner of Washington and Oakland Avenues was empty. Anyone who knows me wouldn’t be surprised that I just had to find out what was on that corner lot. To be honest, I knew 10 years ago, I just haven’t had time to write the story, life sort of intervenes. In the late 1870s the corner of Washington and Oakland was far different. First there was no bridge across the Grand River at Oakland Avenue back then, so there was little traffic, it was quiet and peaceful location, an ideal spot to build a family home. Secondly, it wasn’t Oakland Avenue at that time it was Jefferson Avenue, the name changed in 1965.[1] Take a look at the above image, which was taken in the early 1940s of a snowy day in Lansing.

Observe how the porch is in the shape of an L. The flat roof is surprising is a home of this type. A pitched roof is more common with this style structure.

The home was erected between 1875 and 1877 and was probably designed and built by its owner Henry R. Howard. Henry presents and interesting challenge, we know he was a carpenter and owned/managed a planing mill. He may have been a Civil War veteran, but so much of his life is a mystery. He was born in the state of New York in 1834 or 1836, the son of Charles W. and Dighton R. Howard. Just when Henry moved to Michigan is unknown, the first record of Henry in Lansing is from the 1860 Census. He may have arrived in Michigan sometime in the 1850s. So, let’s deal what we do know about his life. On November 19, 1872, Henry married Celia M. Walton in Ypsilanti, Michigan. Celia was the daughter of Jerome and Maria C. (née Sherman) Walton. Henry and Celia had six children, Mary Belle Pratt, Jerome Walton, Blanche D., Margaret Richmond, Charles W., and Laurance W. Howard. Their son Jerome became superintendent of the Michigan School for the blind in the early 1900s, afterward he accepted a position as superintendent for the Oregon School for the Blind.[2] In the 1878 Lansing City Directory, Henry is listed as living on the northeast corner of Washington and Jefferson Avenues. The address of Henry and Celia’s home was listed in the City Directories as 800 North Washington, until 1906, when the house address changed to 900 North Washington. It was in 1906 that the city of Lansing adopted Philadelphia method of street numbering, a system we still use today.

Note the changes in the porch, it originally was in the shape of an L, but the shorter portion of the L was enclosed

Henry Howard died at the age of 58, on May 19, 1893, no cause of death was listed, and the only useful information provided is that he lives at 800 North Washington, and that he was old.[3] (SR 5/20/1893) A little more is known about Celia Howard’s death. Celia had been in excellent health after her husband’s passing. On December 2, 1907, after attending church services at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, she decided to walk home. After returning to her residence, Celia suffered a stroke, she lingered until 5 am and passed away on December 23, 1907.[4]

There is something odd about the design of the home. The rear section of the home is awkward. It is almost as if it was added as an afterthought.

Was this unconventional home worth preserving? Probably not. There is a certain gracelessness to the design of the home, the structure lacks balance. On the left side in the above image, you can see the rear addition with the door that faces the large two story canted bay window. It creates an awkward recess to the rear of the home.

When the home was originally built the amount of traffic on Jefferson/Oakland Avenue was minimal. Today the road is basically a racetrack. Oakland Avenue has the highest ticketing rates for speeders than any other road in Lansing. Keep in mind that Oakland Avenue goes through a residential neighborhood, which makes one question the wisdom of the person who thought that was a good idea. The residence was chopped up into four apartments in the 1950s. There is no record of the home after 1966, today there is just a patch of grass.

[1] See LSJ 1/8/1965

[2] LSJ 5/11/1937

[3] SR 5/20/1893

[4] SR 12/23/1907 and LJ 12/23/1907

Images CADL/FPLA

 

© Lost Lansing 2021

 

232 South Capitol

232 South Capitol. The home was built in 1885-1886, when Mason Chatterton moved to Lansing.

Mason D. Chatterton, died suddenly at his home at 232 South Capitol Avenue on October 27, 1903. He was 68 years old, and his death was a shock to the community. Mason had been in excellent condition his entire life, but in late 1902 he began to suffer periodical bouts of ill health. In early October 1903, Mason attended a stockholders meeting of the Farmers’ Bank in Mason, Michigan. He caught a cold while traveling to the meeting, two weeks later his health had not improved and he became noticeably weaker. On the advice of his doctor, Mason decided to remain at home and work in an attempt to hasten his recovery. After ten days he seemed to be recuperating, but late in the evening of October 26, 1903, he became violently ill and passed away suddenly from pneumonia. Mason Chatterton was born in Mt. Holly, Rutland County, Vermont on August 3, 1838. His parents Daniel and Betsey (née Jewett) Chatterton, moved their family to Michigan in 1851, stopping briefly in Oakland County, before purchasing property in Ingham County. The Chatterton farm in Meridian Township was 72 acres in size and was located in the north east corner of Hagadorn Road and Grand River Avenue, with additional lands below Grand River Avenue reaching the Red Cedar River. According to many sources, young Mason was the first student admitted to the Michigan Agricultural College where he studied for three years, he then attended the State Normal School in Ypsilanti,[1] for one year before he enrolled in the University of Michigan to study law. After Mason’s graduation from the University of Michigan, in March 1861, he was admitted to the state bar. Mason was a man on a mission, he was the town clerk of Meridian, selected as an Ingham County Court Commissioner, 1864-69; elected as an Ingham County Probate Judge, 1873-81; after leaving politics Mason became Director and President of the Farmers Bank of Mason. He practiced law in Okemos, Mason and Lansing where he moved in 1886. He was also an accomplished write, he wrote, Law and Practice in the Probate Courts and Immortality from the Standpoint of Reason, which was published by his wife after his death. On June 2, 1864, Mason married Miss Mary A. Morrison, who was the daughter of Norris and Jane (née Homer) Morrison. The couple had one child, Floyd M. Chatterton. Daniel’s wife Mary A. Chatterton passed away on April 29, 1923, at the age of 87. The home at 232 South Capitol was designed by the architectural firm of Mason & Rice.


Wolverine Insurance Building

The Wolverine Insurance Building soon after its completion. 

So, what happened to the Chatterton home, well it was torn down in 1924 and replaced by the Wolverine Insurance Building.[2] Accident Fund acquired the building in 1950 and moved into the old Wolverine Insurance building in January 1951. Surprisingly the oldBuilding is still standing, the façade is hidden behind metal panes that grace the entire structure at 232 S. Capitol. I am not sure what to make of this building, on the one had in many ways the exterior is disappointing and seems dated, while on the plus side the multi-storied atrium is wonderful.[3] Today the building is the home to Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan.

For more information on Mason Chatterton see LJ 10/28/1903, SR 10/28/1903, Past and present of the city of Lansing and Ingham county, Michigan, Cowles page 137ff and Michigan Pioneer and Historical Collections P 763 Vol 34 1904

[1] Today Eastern Michigan University

[2] The architects were Edwyn A. Bowd and Orlie J. Munson see LSJ 10/24/1925

[3] See LSJ 3/3/1986 and LSJ 3/15/1988

© Lost Lansing 2021

The apartment building at 415 S. Grand in the 1940s. Note the change in the color of the brickwork above the second-floor windows and how the style of the windows changed between the 2ndand 3rdfloors. The lintels are missing on the third-floor windows. Also observe the bay window on the north side of the structure. (CADL/FPLA)

In the course of a different project I came across this odd-looking structure located at 415 S. Grand. Other tasks always seem to take a priority and investigating the structure at 415 S. Grand fell by the wayside. Well now is the time to look at this fascinating structure. A Lansing State Journal article from 1959 stated that Lot 10 Block 134 was taken as a land patent from the state by Catherine F. Burr on April 7, 1866. Catherine’s husband was Allen R. Burr. The home was probably built after 1866 and before 1873 because Colonel B. Burr, Allen and Catherine’s son, was listed as living on the corner of Kalamazoo Street and Grand Avenue in 1873. The home was not technically on the corner of Kalamazoo and Grand but since there was no homes on lots 11 and 12 in 1873 the description is correct. The same Lansing State Journal referred to a large mortgage taken out on the property in 1898, which is the date the newspaper believed the home was built.[1] This is incorrect. In 1898 the then owner of the home, Israel and Etta Glicman (Glickman) were facing severe financial burdens in their business and were being pressured by creditors for payment of the debt. It was understandable why they would have taken out a large mortgage on the property.(DFP1/10/1899)

You can see the change in the color of the brickwork above the second level. Note the windows on the rear of the building and how they differ from the style of windows on the original structure. They are not as tall and lack the ornamentation of the other windows. (CADL/FPLA)

The 1892 Sanborn map shows a home on Lot 10 Block 134 with the same footprint as the home in 1898 and 1906 Sanborn maps with the main part of the home as 2 or 21/2 stories with the rear of the structure only being 1 story. Comparing the 1906 Sanborn map with the 1913 Sanborn map there was an addition to the rear of the home and the entire structure was 21/2 stories. Sometime between 1913 and 1951 the top level of the structure was expanded and the building became a three story structure. The Ingham County News on September 30, 1886 listed the sale of the property by the Burr’s to Ettie Glicman. The 1888 Lansing City Directory also placed Etta Glicman as living at 409 S. Grand.[2] As to who designed the home the only architects in Lansing at that time were Israel Gillett, C. Brownson, C. Burns and F. Jeffries, so unless new information comes to light the architect and builder are unknown.

You can see in the above image what I believe are lighting rods of the roof on the structure. Based upon the Sanborn maps the original porch wrapped around the home in an L shape but was only one story. The odd second floor porch on the front and south side was added later. (CADL/FPLA)

Allen R. Burr was born in Medina County, Ohio on April 22, 1818. As a young man he attended the local schools. On July 6, 1848 he married Miss Catherine Foote of Southwick, Massachusetts. The couple had two children, Colonel B. and Stella F. Burr. Allen worked as a farmer until he was elected sheriff of Medina County in 1846, a position he held until 1850.

One of the earliest images of Lansing. The hardware store of Burr and Grove was located on the Southwest corner of Washington and Michigan Avenues 1855-1857. (CADL/FPLA)

In 1854 Allen moved to Lansing, Michigan where he opened a hardware store with George K. Grove in 1855. The business survived for two years. He then served as the Lansing Postmaster for two years during the Civil War and resigned the post to take a position as a clerk with Auditor General’s Office. In 1872 Allen was elected Ingham County Sherriff, serving for four years. Allen passed away on June 2, 1885 of exhaustion and an aortic aneurism (SR 6/10/1885)

You can clearly see the mixed brickwork on the addition to the rear of the home and the multiple entrances to the apartments. Note the false mansard roof. The structure is a perfect example of the lack of proper city codes that once troubled the city of Lansing. (CADL/FPLA)

The subdivision of the home at 415 S. Grand took place after the Glicman family sold the property. In 1910 the home had been divided into three apartments. The first residents were Ralph Rawlings who worked for the Michigan Commercial Insurance Company; Arthur H. Mann superintendent of the M.U.R. and Samuel Butterworth an architect who was a partner in the firm of White & Butterworth. One wonders if the firm of White & Butterworth was involved in the redesign of the home? The structure at 415 S. Grand was torn down in 1959 by the Central Wrecking Company to increase parking for the F.N. Arbaugh Department store. Currently the site is still a parking lot.

©Lost Lansing 2019

[1] See LSJ 11/4/1959. The article also stated that Catherine Burr used the home as a private school. The writer has confused Catherine Burr with Laura Burr, the wife of Dr. H.S. Burr. Laura conducted a school much earlier on River Street.

[2]409 S. Grand was the old address for 415 S. Grand.