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This is just an FYI. Lost Lansing is changing, there may be a new look in the future. Some posts have been removed and will reappear in a Lost Lansing Book with some new stories.

The Woodcock Terraces at 309-317 N. Capitol. Note the dirt street and the hitching posts along the road.

The Woodcock Terraces were one of the first of townhomes built in Lansing, they were constructed in May of 1886 by David F. Woodcock. (SR 5/31/1886) The better-known Barnes’ Flats were built in 1887. Woodcock was a long-time resident of Lansing who was in construction business with George H. Kneal. The firm of Woodcock and Kneal handle many of the paving contracts in the city, for example, the company was hired to pave Washington Avenue and Capitol Avenue. Woodcock personally handled the construction of the Woodcock Terraces. But just who was the architect remains a mystery. There are several possibilities; Darius Moon, Israel Gillett, Lemuel Dwight Grosvenor, Claire Allen, James or William Appleyard.

You can see in the above image the size of Woodcocks residence, note how it extends to the rear.

The Woodcock Terraces have an appealing appearance. The multiple story bay window and the elevated entrance porch are all the traits one would find in a typical townhouse. The building was constructed of brick with limited windows on the north and south end. The Woodcock Terrances consisted of four separate units with the north unit be twice the size of the other three units. That is because 317 (311) N. Capitol was the residence of David F. Woodcock. After Woodcock’s death the home was split to create another unit. The Woodcock Terraces were torn down in 1966 when city block 84 was cleared. The great irony is that the city of Lansing tore down 27 townhouses when they cleared the block. Today the block sits effectively empty with the empty Oliver Towers as the only building left on the block. So, Lansing great plan of redeveloping the area came to naught.

 

The terraces in the 1940s observe the lack of windows on the south side of the structure.

David F. Woodcock was born in Phillipston, Massachusetts on June 4, 1829 to Tisdale and Patty (née Baker) Woodcock. David first settle in Adrian, Michigan in about 1859. Just when David came to Lansing is a bit of a mystery. He is listed as a Notary in Lenawee County in 1867 while just two years later he is appointed a notary in Ingham County. David’s obituary mentions that he came to Lansing to take a position with the auditor general’s department. Later he was in business with George Kneal and was one of the founders of the Central Michigan Savings Bank. On June 1, 1851 David married Miss Ann Eliza Reed in New Hampshire. The couple would have one child, Edward F. Woodcock. It was on a visit to his son’s home in Minneapolis that David passed away at the age of 77. His body was returned to Lansing for burial at Mt. Hope Cemetery. (SR 11/3/1902 and LJ 11/4/1902)

Coming Soon the Gillett Townhouses

©Lost Lansing 2019

 

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.

Clark Carriage Works circa 1904. The office building, the three-story structure to the left was torn down in 1926, the rear of the building, barely visible survived. The angled building to the right housed the wheel storage section and the packaging and shipping plant.

The buildings that once stood at 235-237 make for interesting viewing. The site once was the home of Clark Carriage Works, famous for the fine carriages it produced but also for creating the first body for Ransom E. Olds’ horseless carriage.

 

The Clark Carriage Plant on South Grand Avenue. Notice the footprint of the angled building and location of the administrative office. Sanborn Map 1906

On July 4,1906, the Clark Factory was partially damaged by fire, but was quickly rebuilt, the firm was engaged in the production of carriages and bodies for Oldsmobile. In 1911 Lansing Wagon Works purchased the Clark & Company Carriage Works. By 1912 part of the plant was acquired by the Lansing Sanitary Ice Company (LSJ 3/25/1912) Later, in 1919 John Bohnet Company, manufactures of truck bodies and automobile accessories acquired the Clark Plant (LSJ 6/12/1919). The John Bohnet Company was acquired by the Briscoe Motor Company of Jackson, Michigan in 1919-1920.

Notice the location of the John Bohnet Company and the Lansing Sanitary Iceless Plant. Sanborn Map 1913.

So, you may be asking yourself, what does this all mean. Well this whole post is centered around a 1939 image of the property.  The background may not seem important, but it is. This was one of the most important structures in the history of Lansing and no attempt was made to save it, by either city government or the public. Is it odd or just me, that the plant that was so integral to the birth of the automobile industry just leveled? No one seemed to care, so much for history.

The Clark Carriage Works plant in 1939. The building to the right was the original plant. The three-story building to the left was added in 1926 to replace the old office building. Notice the service station on the ground floor. (CADL/FPLA)

In 1926, the office building for Clark Carriage Works was torn down and replaced with the new structure by F.J. Blanding, ironically Lansing’s first Ford dealer. (LSJ 6/3/1926) What is important is that the eastern part of the Clark Carriage Works survived. Years later in 1948 that area that was the gas station was enclosed and converted to office and showroom space (LSJ 2/15/1948). Alas it was not to survive, in December 1962 the building was torn down and replaced, with you guessed it a parking lot (LSJ 12/27/1962). Today it is the site of the Grand Tower.

So instead of examining the life of Frank Clark or John Bohnet, both of whom are well known in Lansing, I thought it would be interesting to review the life of Fred J. Blanding, Lansing first Ford Dealer.

Fred (Fritz) Blanding when he played for the Cleveland Naps (LOC)

Frederick James Blanding Jr. was born in Redlands, San Bernardino, California, on February 8, 1888 to Frederick James and Emma (née Sly) Blanding. Tragedy had struck the family, just eight days prior to young Frederick’s birth when his father died.  Fredrick’s mother Emma, decided to return to Michigan and settled in Bloomfield, Michigan where her parents lived. Frederick (Fred) attend Detroit Central High school and the University of Michigan where he was a standout pitcher. He was drafted by the Cleveland Naps in 1910 and is best known for his first outing when he faced the future Hall of Famer, Walter Johnson. Fred threw a 6-hit shut-out and the Naps won 3-0. Fred’s career was quite varied and to save time it is far simpler if one reviews the excellent Wikipedia article on Fred Blanding’s baseball career. Let’s just say Fred left baseball under his own terms and deserves a lot of respect for that.

When his baseball career ended, Fred opened a Ford dealership in Lansing, Michigan, the home of Oldsmobile, REO and later Durant Motors. That took some guts. On a personal note, Fred married Miss Clara M. Shields on November 28, 1914 in Cuyahoga, Ohio, the couple had three children; George, Robert and Katherine. Not only was Fred involved in business, but he kept a hand in baseball, serving as president of the short lived, Lansing Senators and helping to teach young pitchers at Lansing Central High School. In 1935 Fred and his family left Lansing and moved to Roanoke, Virginia where he worked for a variety of automobile dealerships. Frederick James Blanding died of a heart attack on July 16, 1950 (Daily Press, Newport News, Virginia 7/18/1950).

© Lost Lansing 2018