Business

100 E Main now Malcom X. Street.

Note how the roof of the front porch extends of the porte cochere and how the driveway sloped downward, which must have been a struggle for the carriages that visited the home.

The home at 100 E. Main was built in 1875, which is supported by the 1874 Map of Lansing that showed no structures present on Block 177, Lot 11. An article from the Lansing State Journalstated that that the land was part of the original grant to William W. Townsend by the United States in the 1830s. (LSJ1/2/1964) I find it odd that no home was built on this site prior to 1875, it was a prime piece of property overlooking the Grand River on a high bluff. The home was built for James L. Stewart who had a marble business at 400 S. Washington, and designed and built, with his partner Edwin L. Hopkins, the Soldiers Monument at Mt. Cemetery in Lansing.

100 E. Main, Lansing, MI.

On the second floor, to the right of the gable, there are two windows on the façade of this structure, which is an obvious later addition. Note the fantastic gingerbread work on the gable and the decorative columns and spindles on the porch.

So, what happened to the home? Well if you look at the first image of the home you can see that there is a sign to the left of the photograph and in the above image you can see how the motel building wraps around the home. That was the Riverside Manor Motel, hailed at is opening in November of 1957 as a sign of the future development of the city. The residence at 100 E. Main was acquired by the Riverside Corporation in January 1964 and torn down soon afterward. A pool for the motel was installed where 100 E. Main once stood.

The Riverside Motor Inn, 102 E. Main, the name changed from Riverside Manor Motel in the 1960s. Note the umbrellas and the pool to the right in the above image, where 100 E. Main once stood. Placing the date of the above image after 1964.

The Riverside Motor Inn was acquired in 1971 by the Motel 6 Corporation, which decided in in 1978 that it was better to tear down the structure then renovate the building. In 1980 a new 120 room Motel 6 opened on the property, which included the site where 100 E. Main once stood. Later the Motel 6 Corporation, sold the hotel to another owner who renamed the motel the Deluxe Inn. The Deluxe Inn became a problem for the city, the motel morphed in to a location that the police visited on a regular basis. Shootings, drug overdoses, prostitution and a variety of nefarious dealings were common at the motel. The Deluxe Inn property was sold at a sheriff’s auction for back taxes in 2009. The building was torn down in 2010, panels from the motel were used to create the REO Town sign that now stand on the property. Essentially in the space of fifty years three structure were present on Block 177 Lots 10-11; 100 E. Main, Riverside Manor Motel and Motel 6. Now the site is an empty lot. More importantly the city lost a beautiful home. There is no doubt that whoever owned the property would face difficulty when Interstate 496 carved up the area resulting in the drop in the value of the property. The highway essentially cut off the development of the downtown core to the southward, isolating REO Town.

James L. Stewart was a bit of a mystery. He was born March 13, 1830 or 1831 in Ontario, Canada. He was married to an Annie Potter(?) and appeared in the 1871 Census of Canada, living in Elgin, Ontario, with Annie and working as a marble dealer. James was 40 at the time of the census and Annie was 34. The next record for James L. Stewart is the 1880 United States Census, where James was working in Lansing as a marble dealer and married to Wilda who is 17 years his junior. Annie died in 1906 and was buried in the Burdick Cemetery, Elgin County, Ontario. Her tombstone reads, Ann wife of Jas. L. Stewart. James was not buried in the Burdick Cemetery. The James, from the 1880 Census, died in San Diego, California on October 27, 1894, he was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego. James had retired to, San Diego after living in Lansing. “James L Stewart, who was formerly engaged in the marble business in Lansing Mich., died at his home in San Diego Cal. aged 63 years.” (Stone and Illustrated Magazine, Vol X December 1894-May 1895) Wilda Stewart continued to live in San Diego, operating a boarding house. In the 1910-1930 Censuses she is living in an apartment in Long Beach, California. There is a death record for a Wildia Stewart, in San Francisco, California on July 10, 1931, that is the only record that has been located for Wilma. So, what does this all mean? Is it possible that James left Annie for a younger woman? It was odd that James L. Stewart was not buried with Annie in the Burdick Cemetery. Or did James abandon his wife and essential take a common law wife without annulling his first marriage? That could explain why he left Canada. Of course, this could all be wrong, there may have been two James L. Stewarts who were both marble dealers and born within a year of each other in the same location.

©Lost Lansing 2018

Every so often we are asked to identify images and try and determine just where the subject/building/home/etc., is located. The above photograph is an example of an image long identified with Lansing, in fact it appeared in two books on Lansing history. The problem is that neither book identified where the business in the photograph was located in Lansing.

The first clue is in the top right-hand corner. It is the name of a physician, Dr. McPherson, the second clue is the number 73 below the window pane with Dr. McPherson’s name. So, we have a name and street address number, but not the street name. After reviewing the Michigan Gazetteersand census information all signs point to Dr. James A. McPherson, a well-known physician who practiced in Grand Rapids. We have a last name and street number. After searching the Lansing City Directories in the 1890s, we find no McPherson practicing medicine in Lansing in the 1890s. Why was the decade of the 1890s chosen? Well that is based upon the style of dress of the individuals in the photograph. Reviewing the Grand Rapids City Directories’ for the 1890s we know that Dr. McPherson’s office was located at 73 Canal Street in 1892 and 1893. However, this is not enough, we need corroboration.

If you look closely in the above image, under the poultry you can barely make out the name of the company next door to Dr. McPherson’s office. The front of the awning the words ‘Wholesale and Retail’ appear, the rest is obscured. So, given that this was either a butcher shop or a commercial hide company, there are bear and deer carcass hanging in the windows, it had to be one of the two. The Grand Rapids City Directories’ for 1892 and 1893 listed the Western Beef and Provision Company at 71 Canal Street. Given all these factors it can be stated with a high degree of certainty that the image is from Grand Rapids and not Lansing. Of course, today there are a variety tools that can be used to aid in the identification of a photograph that were no available to earlier researchers. Now an image can be scanned, then changed to a negative and manipulated in a variety of ways that allow more information to be pulled from a photograph then was possible just 20 years ago. The researcher can also examine a wide range of City Directories and other sources electronically, while back in the day the authors of the books where these images were published could not. So, if you are willing to stretch the definition of Lost Lansing, this really is a loss for Lansing, but a gain for Grand Rapids.

© Lost Lansing 2018

 

 

The Cortrite home and Fanning Mill Works is an image that appeared in Durant’s History of Ingham and Eaton Counties, Michigan. The color image is one that I came across years ago, I just cannot remember where. The address of the home was listed on the illustration as being 96 Michigan Avenue in 1880. So just where was that? Well in today’s world it is 808-814 E. Michigan Avenue. The Fanning Mill was sited at 810-814 E. Michigan Avenue while the home was located at 808 E. Michigan Avenue. That is in the elevated lot between Moriarty’s Pub and Stober’s Bar. The Fanning Mill Factory is long gone, but the home existed until the mid 1980s. Hard to believe that the home was not listed in Memorandum 76, that may have been because of the homes location, set back from the street and between two commercial blocks. Simply it may have been overlooked.

The Cortrite Fanning Mill from the 1870 patent

Durant in his history of Ingham County stated that that the Eureka Fanning Mill plant was established in Lansing in 1875. Prior to that Henry Cortrite operated the factory that manufacture fanning mills in Plymouth, Michigan. Henry relocated to Lansing because of its central location to the railroad lines. If you consider where the new fanning mill was located, just two blocks east of the Michigan Central Railroad line and several blocks from the Lake Shore and Michigan Southern Railway line, the factory was in a perfect position to capitalize on shipping via the railroads. Barnard Cortrite was the inventor of the Cortrite fanning mill, Henry his brother, was not listed in the patent. Barnard also operated a factory to manufacture fanning mills in Norwalk, Ohio, while his brother Henry operated the factory in Lansing. Between 1876 and 1880 the two plants manufactured and sold over 10,000 fanning mills. A fanning mill was an implement that employed sieves and a fan to remove chaff from grain that had been threshed. Later, the technology was combined with the threshing machine, eliminating the need for a separate mill. On Sunday, April 23, 1882 disaster struck the Lansing business when the warehouse that contained 150 finished fanning mills was destroyed by fire. Although the business was insured the production of fanning mills by the Cortrite’s ended in Lansing. (ICN 4/27/1882) The 1883 Lansing City Directory listed Joseph Schneeberger (1832-1911), as the owner of the Eureka Fanning Mills and living at 804 E. Michigan.[1] At this time, it is unknown when Henry sold his business to Joseph, but it must have been in either 1881 or 1882 and it is not clear if Joseph was manufacturing the Cortrite fanning mill or one of a different design.

Henry Cortrite

Henry Cortrite was born in Phelps, New York on November 23, 1837 to Garrett and Electa (née Pullen) Cortrite. When he was 16 he moved with his mother, sister and younger brother to Genesee County, Michigan, Henry’s father Garrett died Phelps, New York on June 16, 1857, just why the family moved to Michigan four years prior to Garrett’s death is unknown. On November 23, 1864, Henry married Miss Annie E. Moreland, the couple has six children, Bernard, Elizabeth, Mary Jane, Henry, Charles B., and Lucretia E. Cortrite. After leaving Lansing for Pontiac, Henry worked in the real estate business and owned a farm. Henry died in Pontiac, Michigan on December 7, 1909. His brother, Bernard continued manufacturing fanning mills in Norwalk, Ohio and retired to California, he passed away on February 17, 1921.

Detail of the porch on Henry Cortrite’s home on Michigan Avenue

I almost forgot, I was exploring the house at 808 E. Michigan. So, if you examine the above image of the porch and focus on the arch between the columns you can see that there is a small opening near columns side of the arch, and another at the center that carried through with the arch. Now observe in the next two images and you can see that the same pattern repeated. Unfortunately, the detailed millwork from the upper part of the porch is missing from the two later images of the home.

808 E. Michigan from the 1950s (CADL/FPLA)

The Cortrite home was later divided in to five separate apartments. You can see the two separate front entrances in the images from the 1950s. The second-floor windows have been replaced with the ornate central window being exchanged with a door. All the gingerbread bargeboard had been removed from the home giving the structure a rather pedestrian appearance.

808 E. Michigan from the 1950s (CADL/FPLA)

So just what happened to the home? Well it became sort of a flop house. The majority of the references in the Lansing State Journal in regard to 808 E. Michigan Avenue are either advertisements for apartment rentals of notices regarding the criminal citations for one of the residents. The home was torn down in 1985. So, what does this all mean? Well it is another example of Lansing choosing destruction over preservation. You may think that this is out of place because the structure is in what has been called the downtown corridor, which is asinine. As much as the mayor and advertisers like to state, downtown is west of the river and not east.

© Lost Lansing 2018

[1] This is a good time to point out that addresses in Lansing changed several times between the 1880s and 1906 when Lansing implemented the Philadelphia method or street addresses.