All posts for the month February, 2016

Scott House

The facade of the Scott Home

Ok a short timeout from the history of Lansing’s early breweries. There has been a lot in the news lately about the Scott house located at the south west corner of Washington Avenue and West Malcom X [Main] Street. From the start we really need to be clear, this is not the Scott house that is standing on the current lot, it is the Jenison house which was moved to the site of the Scott property in September 1978, the original Scott house was torn down in June 1965.

So it is best to start from the beginning. The original Scott residence was actually designed for James Russell Elliott by local architects Thomas E. White and Harry Hussey in 1905.

The State Republican states “Plans and specifications for a fine colonial residence to be erected by Mrs. J. R. Elliott on Main Street, just between the Barnes and Cooley residences, will be completed by White & Hussey tomorrow.  The house will be 52 by 54 feet and will have a large porch with pillars” (SR 6/15/1905).

Scott Rear

The rear of the Scott Home

James Elliott was Vice President and Treasurer of the Michigan United Railways Company, today commonly known today as the interurban. James was born in London, Ontario on January 31, 1871 to Charles H. and Phoebe (née Farror) Elliot. On January 1, 1896 James married Emeline Williams Mills, the sister of Myron W. Mills, President of the Michigan United Railroads. James and Emeline had two daughters, Margaret and Emeline [Holly], later James and Emeline divorced in the 1930s. In 1916 James moved to Portland, Oregon to oversee his investments in lumber tract he had purchased earlier while he still functioned as the Vice President of the Lansing Southern Railroad Company and offshoot the Michigan United Railroads. James life took a series of turns all with some nature of involvement with street railroads. James and his family lived in Glendale, California in 1930, but by 1940 he is living by himself in Detroit, Michigan and managing a wholesale paint store while his wife is living at 1013 Huron Avenue, Port Huron, Michigan. The couple may have reunited before James’ death because he died at Emeline’s home in Port Huron, Michigan on December 13, 1945. (Port Huron Times Herald 12/13/1945)

James was responsible for the Michigan United Railways acquisition of Leadley Park and the subsequent name change to Waverly Park. Interurban lines usually purchased amusement parks outside of the city to keep their cars working on the weekends.

“The larger park above mentioned, known as Waverly Park, is the development of a park property which was purchased by the new company and opened to the public, with many improvements, on Aug. 1, 1904, the opening day being welcomed by the city in the form of a holiday.  This is a very prettily located park site of 73 acres, 20 acres of which have been improved for actual park purposes.  The land is located upon the Grand River, southwest of the city, so that the advantages of boating bathing are available.  The park has a large hotel, open air theatre, dancing hall and fine new baseball park and grand stand; representative illustrations presented herewith show some of the park attractions.  The buildings and grounds are electrically lighted by a private isolated plant upon the grounds.

The attractions at Waverly Park are in general operated by outside effort, through arrangement with the railway company.  Excellent attractions are provided, and it is arranged to provide the very best of accommodations, the result of which has been very gratifying in the amount of traffic created in this way.  During the winter, dances and parties have been made a special feature of the park by the company, and also a gun club has been organized with a large membership, which will have its headquarters at the park.  Better access will soon be provided for entrance of cars to the park, as a subway will be built next spring under the line of the Grand Trunk Railroad, next to the park grounds, so that cars may then approach directly; it is expected that this subway will be completed by May 1” (Street Railway Journal 2/25/1905).

“The proposed extension of the line from the Agricultural College, 7 miles further to the east, will open up another important district and reach a very popular summer resort known as Haslett Park, or Pine Lake.  This lake is one of the principal resorts in that section of the state, but it is inaccessible at present except by a steam railroad which gives very poor passenger service.  This lake occupies a space of 360 acres, and is surrounded by numerous summer cottages, hotels and club houses; also the Spiritualists’ organization have made that resort the meeting place for their annual conventions, which brings large crowds to the lake in the summer.  In addition, the lake abounds with excellent fishing, which furnishes unlimited sport for the angler.  Active work has already begun upon the Pine Lake extension, the contract for construction having been let to the L.E. Meyers Company, Chicago, and it is expected that it will be opened for traffic by June 1.  The extension will be built upon private right of way from the college to the lake, and conform in general to the construction used upon the interurban line to St. Johns” (Street Railway Journal 2/25/1905).

R.H. Scott

Richard H. Scott in the lower gardens along the Grand River

The home was purchased by Richard Scott in May 1909 who also acquired the former residence of Judge Edward Cahill which was later torn down and the foundation used to create the Scott sunken garden.(LSJ 5/20/1909) Oddly the 1913 Sanborn map still shows the Cahill residence still standing. The Scott home was located just west of the sunken garden. Just who Richard Scott was would take several posts to complete. Briefly Scott helped to establish the REO Motor Car Company and later became President of the company when R.E. Olds retired in 1923. The important facet to consider is that Scott was an avid gardener. Not only did he create the sunken garden but he also created a tiered garden along the banks of the Grand River behind his home. Remains of this garden can still be seen today if you walk the river trail and look toward the north when you pass the current building on the site you can see the field stone walls that lined the paths. In fact, you can still climb down and walk the paths of the old garden, I have done it with two good friends. Be forewarned that it is best to walk these paths in early spring our you will be confronted by a mass of poison ivy. The best time to go is a warm day in March, do it soon time is running out for this site.

R.H. Scott2 Web Garden

The west garden, notice the Barnes’ home in the background

So what happened to the Scott home, well after the death of Scott the gardens were maintained by his wife, Gertrude and son Maurice. Gertrude decided in 1965 to have the home torn down but to keep the gardens intact, Gertrude passed away in 1969. After her death the family donated the property to the city of Lansing. The Lansing Garden Club then picked up the task of maintaining the gardens. In 1952 the Orien A. Jenison home at 915 Townsend was acquired by the city and became the home of the arts in Lansing, the Garden, Art and Photography clubs used the Jenison home as their headquarters. In the summer of 1952 the name of the site changed to the Scott Park Art and Garden Center. Why the Scott name was chosen is unknown. In 1979 in a confusing exchange of property between the city of Lansing and General Motors Corporation the Jenison home was moved to the Scott property on Main Street, General Motors used the former site of the Jenison home to build, you guessed it a PARKING LOT! Don’t get me started on Lansing unquenchable need for parking lots. It needs to be pointed out that the Jenison house was not positioned on the foundation of the Scott home but sited closer to the edge of the river bank. Why the home was placed in a different location is unknown?

scott front Web

The Scott residence from the north west 

So why are we here? Well the Scott house is a Lost Lansing treasure. The design of the home with its elegant columns and wide porches was undoubtedly influenced by Thomas E. White’s training as an architect in the southern Untied States. It is tragic that this home was lost. Soon I am sure there will be a Lost Lansing post on the Jenison home. Because I am sure Richard Scott and his family would be proud that their donation would now be used as a BWL Substation. Sarcasm 🙁

© Lost Lansing 2016

Grand River Brewing Company (1865-1896)

Grand River 1885

Located on the south side of East Madison and the Grand River. The map is from 1885. Adam Forester’s home is in the lower left of the image. Notice how the Bottling Works are just north of the plant.

Many histories consider the Grand River Brewery as the first real brewery to be established in Lansing; its founding date of 1865 was in fact preceded by John G. Schoettle and the City Brewery. In 1865 Frederick Yeiter built a production facility at the foot of East Madison Street on the Grand River. The business was known as the Grand River Brewery and operated until 1880 when the company was sold to Adam Foerster. (Durant, 140)

“New Brewery. — Mr. Yeiter has erected a new brewery in the fourth ward of this city the past season, which is now ready for occupancy. The building is of brick and is a large and commodious structure” (LR 10/4/1865).

There seemed to be three partners in the Grand River Brewery, Frederick Yeiter, John Hertel and Adelbert R Thayer. (Michigan Gazetteer, 1866-1867) Hertel continued working in the brewery until his retirement in 1879 when his share was sold to Adam Forester. (LJ 11/6/1879)

John Andrew Hertel was born in Rehau, Bavaria on June 20, 1828 he immigrated to the East Saginaw, Michigan in 1855 where he engaged in business, later in 1860 he moved to Lansing and later partnered in the Grand River Brewery with Yeiter and Thayer. In 1868 (1869) John married Miss Elizabeth A. Daarbacher, the couple had three children; John M., Frederick H., and George J. Hertel. After leaving the brewery John worked a variety of jobs until he passed away on February 11, 1907. (LJ 2/11/1907 and SR 2/11/1907)

Grand River Brewing 1892

Grand River Brewery in 1892. In the 1885 and 1892 image you can see the Bottling Works located north of the brewery on Madison.

Yeiter, F & Company, Proprietors of Grand River Brewery, manufactured stock ales, cream ales and lager beer all from an artesian well of pure spring water at a depth of 135 feet located on property. (County Atlas of Ingham, Michigan, 1874 and LRTW 1/13/1880)

On May 5, 1880 Frederick Yeiter sold his interest in the Grand River Brewery to Adam Foerster owner of the Peninsular Brewery. (LR 5/8/1880) Frederick was born in Germany on July 1, 1811 at the time when Napoleon ruled Europe. He immigrated to Richland, Ohio and later moved to Lansing in 1847. Based upon Frederick’s gravesite at Mt. Hope Cemetery in Lansing, Frederick was married to Elizabeth who passed away on January 24, 1860, proceeded by their eleven-year-old daughter Emily who died on July 12, 1859. After retiring from the brewery Frederick purchased a farm in Delta Township, Michigan. Frederick died on October 23, 1889 survived by four children, Elizabeth, Mary, Katherine and Frederick. (SR 10/24/1889)

One last note before we move on to the Grand River Brewery under Adam Foerster. Just what happened to Adelbert Russell Thayer? Born in Chenango County, New York on June 22, 1847 he moved to Lansing with his family to Lansing in 1854. His father Dr. Russell Thayer worked as a druggist for many years in Lansing. Dr. Russell Thayer died on August 21, 1865 at which point Adelbert assumed management of the business. In 1889 Adelbert left Lansing for Saginaw where he worked as a travel agent. Adelbert Russell Thayer passed away in Saginaw on July 22, 1901. (LJ 7/23/1901)


Grand River Brweing 1898

Grand River Brewery in 1898. The Brewery is noted as closed and so is the bottling works that was located just north of the Grand River Brewery.

After the closing of the Peninsular Brewery in 1882 Foerster devoted himself to the Grand River Brewery. Previous to the arrival of Foerster the Grand River Brewery manufactured only ales. Foerster refitted the brewery to produce lager beer and dropped the line of ales that the brewery previously manufactured. The Grand River Brewery produced 6,000 barrels annually and it was consumed in Lansing, Mason, Dimondale, Grand Ledge, DeWitt, Chesaning and surrounding communities. During the winter months the beer was brewed using water from an artesian well, while in the summer only filtered water is used [From the Grand River?]. The brewery employed six men full time. (SR 4/17/1889)

In March of 1895 there was a plan floated in Lansing to create a stock company in Lansing to purchase the Grand River Brewery, modernize the plant and increase its production capacity to 30,000 barrels annually. It seems the Grand River Brewery had reached its maximum level of production and needed a complete remodeling. If it was to survive, it was essential for the brewery to expand otherwise it would shut down. (SR 3/28/1895) Ultimately the plan failed.

“Adam Foerster’s brewery has closed down and during an interview with the State Republican reporter this morning Mr. Foerster said: ‘I have stopped brewing because there is no money in it.’ When asked if he intended to open up again he said ‘Times will tell’” (SR 7/13/1896).



Grand River Brewery advertisement from the Lansing City Directory 1888

Within five years the Grand River Brewery physically ceased to exist. The brewery was purchased by the Hugh Lyons Company and torn down for its bricks, which were used in the building of the new Hugh Lyons factory that was built on the site of the old Potter Manufacturing Plant. It is unknown how many of the original brewery’s bricks remain at the site of the old Hugh Lyons plant at 701 E. South Street. (SR 10/3/1901 and LJ 10/3/1901)

Michigan state gazetteer and business directory for ...

Michigan State Gazetteer and Business Directory 1887

Adam Foerster was born in Heidelberg, Waterloo County Canada on February 22, 1848. At the age of eighteen Foerster was apprenticed to a brewery in Preston, Ontario. He next traveled to Cincinnati, Ohio in 1866 where he worked as a brewer for four years. In 1870 he moved to Ypsilanti, Michigan where he partnered with his brother Louis. Together the brothers purchased a brewery, which they operated as the Grove Brewery until 1877. After leaving the brewery in Ypsilanti, Adam retuned to Cincinnati where he worked as a brewer until late 1877. Adam relocated to Lansing in 1878 where he purchased the Peninsular Brewery from August Galler. Later Foerster bought the Grand River Brewery from Frederick Yeiter. Foerster expanded the Grand River Brewery adding an icehouse, storage warehouse, and a new facility to brew lager beer. One building measured 25×75 feet the other 24×60 feet. By 1891 the capacity of the brewery had grown to 12,000 barrels a year. While in Cincinnati Adam married Miss Catherine Spaeth, the couple had five children, Charles, George, Ida, Albert and Lucia Foerster. The Grand River Brewery continued under Foerster’s guidance until 1896 when he decided that is was no longer profitable to produce and sell beer in the Lansing area. After the closing of the brewery Adam retired to his farm in Clinton County and for a time lived in Ypsilanti helping his brother with the management of the Louis Foerster Brewery that he helped to found in 1870. Adam Foerster passed away at his home at 129 E. Madison directly across from the site of the old Grand River Brewery on May 9, 1922 (LSJ 5/10/1922, Cincinnati City Directories, 1867-1877, Ann Arbor City Directories, 1870-1877 and Portrait and Biographical Album of Ingham, 445)

Next the Christ Wolf Brewery

© Lost Lansing 2015