Lansing History

 

729 W. Allegan Street, originally 719 W. Allegan Street. (CADL/FPLA)

I came across an image of 729 W. Allegan while examining images of the house at 735 W. Allegan. In 1981, David Caterino took a series of photographs of structures west of the Capitol that were slated for demolition.[1]The property at 729 W. Allegan was not part of Caterino’s survey, the home was acquired by the state in 1970 and torn down either in 1970 or 1971.[2]A survey of the Lansing City Directories points to the home being built between the years 1884-1887, the 1888 Lansing City Directorylisted 719 W. Allegan as being owned by Joseph R Larose. Just who the architect of the home was is unknown. But one key to who the architect was were the teardrop columns on the second-floor porch an element not seen in the design of many homes. Note how these columns seem almost suspended over their base and how second-floor porch flairs outward.

An enlargement of the first photograph that show the teardrop columns on the second-floor porch as well as the columns on the entrance porch and the columns that frame the second-floor front window.

The home at 729 W. Allegan was an exquisite structure that contained many interesting architectural elements. Observe the front porch columns in the Doric pier style, a characteristic that is repeated on the shed porch at the rear of the home. The front porch is also canted, laid out at an angle from the main structure. The second-floor window on the front of the home is framed by Ionic style columns, they are so delicate that they could be overlooked. The architect used three styles of columns in the design of the home. It is interesting to note the graceful arching of the roof of the second-floor porch and the attractive slope of the dormer over the second-floor window. These elements coupled with the angler structure of the entrance porch, demonstrated that the architect was comfortable mixing angles and curves in their design.

Note the bay window at the back of the home and the fish scale siding on the gable ends.

Joseph Roman Larose was born on May 22, 1850 to Francis Xavier and Leonore (née De Lisle) Larose in the state of New York. Joseph spent part of his childhood in Milwaukee but received his education in Quebec. He was apprenticed as a painter and left Quebec for Troy, New York where he worked for several years. His career as a painter meant that Joseph led a life of travel, he found work in Savannah, Georgia and later Detroit. In 1876 Joseph married Miss Melvina [Malvina] Robarge in Detroit, the couple had three children; Mary Maud, Ervy [Irving] Emerson and Edith Rose Larose. Joseph moved to Lansing in December 1877 to labor with John B. Voiselle on the fresco work at the state Capitol. John was a native of Quebec, so in a way John and Joseph had a common background. In 1879 John and Joseph formed the decorating and frescoers company of Voiselle & Larose. Besides painting and tile work the firm sold wallpaper, blinds, moldings and supplied business signs. Years later Joseph started his own business, J.R. Larose & Company a painting and decorating firm. On September 23, 1909, Joseph died of cancer after a year and half battle against the disease, he was 59.[3]

Normally I do not explore the home after the first owner, but in this case, I made an exception. The second owner of the home was Anna Trostle (sometimes listed as Trostel or Trussel) who acquired the property in 1891. Anna was the wife of Frederick George Trostle, an early settler of Lansing who was one of the few gunsmiths in Lansing. Frederick was born in Germany in 1840-1841 He married Anna Gilbert, the couple had three children, Mattie M., Mamie E., and George F. Trostle. What is interesting about Frederick is that he disappeared. In 1891 Frederick was brought before the Honorable George W. Bristol, Judge for the Probate for Ingham County and the state of Michigan, by Lawrence Price of Lansing to show that Frederick Trostle was insane. The petition asked that Frederick be committed to the Michigan Asylum at Kalamazoo asa private patient. Doctor Joseph Bowdish Hull, who had practiced in Lansing since 1851, testified on October 20, 1891 that Frederick claimed to be the Son of the Supreme Being and his insanity was related to religious subjects. Next, Doctor Alexander McMillen stated that Frederick was insane on all religious subjects and claimed to be the son of the Supreme Being, but on all other subjects he was rational. Doctor D.M. Nottingham testimony agreed with that of Doctor McMillen and reiterated that Frederick was sane regarding all matters outside those of a religious nature. TheDetroit Free Presson November 1, 1892 stated that Frederick ascended the pulpit at Lansing’s Central Methodist Church, on October 30, 1892 and declared himself to be the savior. He was led away by the pastor. The article indicated that Frederick was committed several times but always managed to escape. Frederick was again confined to the Michigan Asylum at Kalamazoo on January 17, 1893, that same year he walked away from the asylum never to be seen again. A death certificate was issued years later with no date. At this time, it is unknown what happened to Frederick. He could have wandered the county as a vagabond and died as an unknown person somewhere in the United States. Part of me wants to think he was happy wandering. Anna Trostle remained in Lansing, passing away at the home of her daughter, Mrs. Mary E. Kuhns on June 7, 1921.

©Lost Lansing 2019

[1]If you want to view the images of 735 W. Allegan visit Local History Online, check the Items with Images Only box and enter, with quotes “735 West Allegan”.

[2]LSJ 10/7/1970

[3]See LJ9/23/1909 and Portrait and biographical album of Ingham and Livingston counties295.

The only known photograph of the Michigan Female College purportedly from 1866. There are other images of North Lansing where it appears in the background. (CADL/FPLA)

The Michigan Female College was designed by Detroit architects, Albert Jordan and James Anderson, but just what style of building they designed for the Roger’s sisters is bit of a mystery. Did the building have one wing, two wings or just the central structure? Did an unknown architect design the north wing which was but several years later or was it Jordan & Anderson that designed the addition? In the above photograph from 1866, you can see that the structure only consisted of a main building, there were no dormitory wings. There is a description of the building from 1873 that mentions the presences of a north wing. Note the central copula and the position of the chimneys. In the architectural drawing below, from the 1859 map of Ingham County, you can observe that the college had a central structure with two wings. That rendering was done by the architectural firm of Jordan & Anderson. Did the below drawing represent the sister’s planned vision for the college or Jordan & Anderson’s? Note that in the 1866 image the building has a hip roof with a flat deck, while the 1873 drawing had tradition slant roof.This image is from the 1866 Bird’s Eye View map of Lansing, note how it resembles the 1859 image presented below.

 

The Michigan Female College, from the 1859 Map of Ingham County. A drawing by the architects Jordan & Anderson. Note the copulas but the lack of chimneys.

After the death of Abigail C. Rogers in 1868, her sister Miss Delia Rogers, decided to close the Michigan Female College. Given that the Michigan Agricultural College and the University of Michigan had begun to admit women in 1870 it was a wise business decision. The International Order of the Oddfellows’ purchased the building and property that once served as the college in August 1871 at a cost of $40,000. (DFP8/17/1871 and SR8/19/1871) The Oddfellows’ began a remodeling of the building in 1872 and a short description follows. “The edifice, in outline cruciform, filled in at the intersections, is to be of the French style of architecture, its Mansard roof rising ten feet above the cornice which crowns the main brick wall; with four main and four wing towers, the former extending 80 feet, the latter 60 feet, above the basement walls and forming part of the outer walls of the building.” The description is from the State RepublicanAugust 3, 1872, based upon an account provided by Colonel E.M. Fitch that appeared in the August issue of the Odd Fellows’ Companion with a drawing.

A woodcut of the Odd Fellows’ Institute from 1873. Unfortunately, the above rendering never happened. Only the north wing and central core was modified in the Second Empire style and it did not have a double entrance. FromLansing, the Capital of Michigan, 1873.

The renovations to the Michigan Female College building for the Odd Fellows’ Society were carried out by Saginaw architect, John B. Dibble. Since the college building consisted of a central structure and a north wing, those were the only structures that were altered in the Second Empire Style. The south wing and the separate front entrances were not built at this time. The striking feature in the above design was the entrance porch. The double entryway with its wonderful decorative gable and the three Victorian gothic chapel style windows on the second floor over a recessed porch. The iron cresting on the mansard towers is a bit exaggerated and curious because it seems to overwhelm the towers.

The above photograph shows the building of the Michigan Female College being updated by the Odd Fellows into a Second Empire structure, observe the scaffolding at the center. Now compare the image with the photograph below of the entrance for the School for the Blind and the earlier wood cut of the Michigan Female College, notice the number and position of the windows in both images. (CADL/FPLA)

There was quite a bit of resentment from the rank and file of International Order of the Odd Fellows’ (I.O.O.F.) in Michigan to the extortion tactics, their words not mine, of the state I.O.O.F. office in their attempt to raise money for the completion of the home and educational institute. (Alpena Argus12/30/1874) The remodeling of the building was not completed until late 1875 or early 1876. The vision of the state office of the I.O.O.F. was not shared by the members of the organization and the building was offered for sale in June 1878. The advertisement in the Detroit Free Pressstated that the “building on the property consists of a main front and wing. The main front is 57 feet square and four stories high, including basement, the wing is 40×50 and four stories high, including the basement” (DFP6/16/1878).

If you are interested in learning more about the Michigan Female College and the I.O.O.F. hall click on the links below.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uva.x030131729;view=1up;seq=299

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt/search?q1=%22Michigan%20Female%20College%22;id=uva.x030131729;view=1up;seq=5;start=1;sz=10;page=search;orient=0

©Lost Lansing 2019

 

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