Lansing History

418 W Michigan

George W. Bement’s Residence at 418 W. Michigan in Lansing, Michigan, a home that he treasured and never wanted to leave.  (FPLA/CADL)

The George W. Bement residence at 418 W. Michigan Avenue was one of a number of remarkable homes that were just west of the Capitol building. On Walnut Street there was the home of Horatio H. Larned at 102 S. Walnut, A.C. Stebbins’ residence at 109 N. Walnut, the James Appleyard house at 123 N. Walnut. Along West Michigan Avenue was the boarding house of Margaret D. Waller at 422 W. Michigan and John N. Alexander’s home at 501 W. Michigan. The Bement home was a truly beautiful residence. The three-story tower is the most striking architectural feature of the home. Note how the windows on the tower are stacked in a balanced manner, three windows over three over three. Observe the details above and below the second floor windows, a half round with a keystone over windows with what seems to be an inlay of a typical American bastion fort under the window. You can see that under the witch’s cap roof of the tower were a circle motif that was continued above the double Tuscan columns on the porch. The porch has an attractive balustrade that consists of some thin balustershafts that almost make railing disappear. The ornamental garland above the second floor lends a formality to the residence. Overall this was a very pleasing home that would have look magnificent in its multi-color paint scheme. With the expansion of the Capitol Complex the home was torn down in 1955.

Customarily, if you follow this site, I usually have a brief history of the original home owner. But this time I thought it would be interesting to review the life of George Bement’s wife, Sarah ‘Rillie’ Marilda Finsthwait. Sarah was born on December 29, 1850 in Federalsburg, Caroline County, Maryland. In the 1870 Census Sarah is listed as Rillie Finstwait [Finsthwait] and keeping house for Frank Finstwait [Finsthwait] in Fostoria, Ohio. Frank had leased the Hays House (Hotel) from Thomas and Elizabeth Hay. There was some concern in Fostoria regarding the fact that Frank would be selling liquor in the previously dry hotel.(Tiffin Tribune10/29/1869) It is unclear from the census records just what was the relationship between Frank and Rillie Finstwait [Finsthwait], but they seem to have been brother and sister.[1] One the residents of the hotel in 1870 was George Bement who was working as clerk in a local dry goods store. On June 13, 1872 Sarah married George Bement in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania. The couple had two children; Frank H. and Howard Bement. Throughout her life Sarah was active in many local groups in Lansing, she was a member of the U&I Club and the Up-to-Date Club. At these meetings Sarah presented papers on a variety of religious topics; The Modern Conception of Religious Education and The Gospel and the Poor are just two of the titles. During the First World War, Sarah was active in the Lansing Red Cross. Sarah was also a member of the Plymouth Congregational Church. After the death of her husband George in 1903, Sarah lived the next 36 years at the family home at 418 W. Michigan until her death on February 24, 1939. (LSJ2/24/1939)

©Lost Lansing 2019

[1]In all likelihood this was Franklin Buchanan Finsthwait (1841-1924) married to Caroline Everhart Finsthwait (1848-1935). After leaving Fostoria Frank move to Pittsburg, PA.

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.

The Dodge home at 432 S. Grand, note the Arbaugh Department Store’s water tower in the background. (FPLA/CADL)

The home at 432 (418) S. Grand was a marvelous structure. It was built between 1894-1896, probably in 1895. The first owner was Ezra B. Dodge, the brother of Frank L. Dodge. Ezra Bradstreet Dodge was born in Oberlin, Ohio of January 31, 1841 to Hervey and Angeline (née Stevens) Dodge. Ezra attended the local schools in Oberlin and lived for a period of time in Cleveland where he studied law. He moved to Eaton County, Michigan in 1866 where he completed his law studies under Judge M.V. Montgomery and managed a local hotel. Ezra moved to Lansing after completing his studies in 1882. The Dodge family were Democrats and with the election of Grover Cleveland, Ezra was appointed clerk of the Third Judicial District Court in the Territory of Arizona in 1885 where he served under Judge John Calhoun Shields. Ezra retuned to Lansing after his time in Arizona and practiced law and was involved in real estate. Before moving to Michigan, Ezra married Miss Laura Curtis in Cleveland, Ohio in 1860, the couple had three sons Joseph, Charles and Frederick. (SR4/18/1905 and LJ4/18/1905)


The home at 432 S. Grand after its renovation sometime in the late 1940s early 1950s. (FPLA/CADL)

This was a massive and impressive home. Just who the architect was is unknown. The home was in all likelihood built for Ezra Dodge after he retuned from Arizona. In the first image you can see the pyramidal tower that merges into the second-floor bay window. Note the flared siding and the pent roof over the first-floor windows on the south side, a method that was used to shed water away from the structure. The location of the entrance is a mystery, it seems to have been enclosed. The front porch with is roofline and pediments seem heavy and overwhelms the slight columns. The second-floor porch on the façade was soften by the delicate scrollwork along the top between the columns. As you can see in the above image the front of the structure has been stripped away. The tower and bay window have been removed as well as the small second floor porch and the main porch. The side entrance porch has been remodeled with the pediment removed. The home at this point in time has been subdivided into three apartments. The home was razed in 1954 to provide addition parking for the Arbaugh Department Store. (LSJ 4/29/1954)

©Lost Lansing 2019