Lansing History

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

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