All posts for the month September, 2016



Hillsdale W 809

The Kipke Home at 809 W. Hillsdale

Ok I started to research this home based upon an image of the porch, it had some wonderful details and was quite attractive. The first homeowner was Charles W. Kipke who was born in Pomerania, Germany in 1860 to Fred and Minnie (née Holtz) Kipke.[1] Charles immigrated to the United States in 1872 with his parents and settled in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Charles worked a variety of jobs in Lansing; he first appeared in Lansing City Directories in 1894 working as a drayman for Wells & Clear Coal Company. He later worked at the Olds Motor Works from 1904 to 1918. Charles married Wilhelmina (Minnie) Straus [Struss] on November 26, 1890 in Lansing, Michigan. The couple had nine children; William, Harry, Ray, Walter, Herbert, Minnie, Marie and Lena Kipke. Charles passed away at his home on January 2, 1918 he was 58. (LSJ 1/4/1918)


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Take a look at this awesome front porch 

What is interesting about the home at 809 W. Hillsdale was who grew up in the home. Charles’ son Harry George Kipke grew up in Lansing attended Lansing High School and was captain the schools undefeated football team. After graduating from high school Harry played football at the University of Michigan for Fielding H. Yost and was selected as an All- American in 1922. He was also captain of the 1923 Wolverine football team that went 8-0 and won the National Championship. Harry also lettered nine times at UM in football, baseball and basketball, was an All-American basketball player in 1924, simply Harry was probably the greatest all-round athlete Lansing ever produced. After graduation Harry served as an assistant coach at the University of Missouri under Gwinn Henry, it is possible that his appointment there was aid by then athletic director Chester Brewer the former Michigan Agricultural College football coach. In 1928 Harry was hired as head foot ball coach at the Michigan Agricultural College. He stayed one year moving to the University of Michigan to serve as the coach of the Wolverines in 1929. Under Harry the team would win two National Championships in 1932 and 1933 going undefeated. Harry also helped Gerald R. Ford attend the University of Michigan. One interesting note is that Harry and recruited Tom Harmon to play at the school and encourage him to stay even thought Harry was dismissed from his position as football coach.


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Notice the dentils and scroll work.

There is one aspect of Harry’s career at the T should be addressed. In 1931 Harry recruited Willis Ward, a star athlete at Northwestern High School in Detroit to play for UM. Ward was an African American, the first to play at the university since George Jewett, who played at UM in 1890-1893. It was the position Harry put Ward in before the Georgia Tech game at the UM stadium in 1934. The Georgia Tech players refused to play if Ward took the field, there was an uproar on the University of Michigan’s campus, Arthur Miller then a student at the University of Michigan helped to lead the charge against Georgia Tech’s stance, Gerald Ford threaten to resign form the team. It is difficult to separate myth from history at this point. In the end Ward did not play, Ford played, Ward’s whereabouts during the game were a mystery but UM in the end beat GT 9-2, Karma? So why is this important, Harry when he was at Lansing High School played with an African American player on the 1919-1920 football team. Just what there relationship was it is unknown, but the team was undefeated and the experience must have impacted Harry.

In December of 1937 Harry was removed from his position as head football coach, in real terms, yes they had spin back then too, he was fired. Fritz Crisler replaced Harry as coach. Harry’s firing was a result of a internal power struggle at the university between Ralph W. Aigler and Fielding H. Yost, it is nice to know that nothing ever changes in college football. After football Harry served as a regent at UM from 1940-1947 and was President of Coca-Cola Bottling Company in Chicago. Harry died in Port Huron on September 14, 1972. One final note is the death of Minnie Kipke the mother of Harry. She passed away on October 11, 1952 and is remembered for her work with the American Red Cross in World War I and World War II with citation presented to her for the efforts he made to win both wars. Minnie’s son Ray led the Charlevoix Raiders football team to an undefeated and unscored upon season in 1945, in fact the name of the team was change from Raiders to Rayders in his honor. Herbert Kipke was head of the Lansing Parks Department and a professor Central Michigan University.  (LSJ 10/12/1952)

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The Ginger Bread features on the porch were amazing.

Hopefully someone saved them!

So why is this at all important? Well in a larger sense it means nothing, but in a city that forgets its past at every opportunity it does mean something. There is so little left of old Lansing, don’t even get me started about Old Town, it just demonstrates the callousness of the city officials of preserving anything versus the whims of developers. Based upon the Sanborn and Google maps the site is now a clubhouse and pool.


© Lost Lansing 2016

[1] The last name has also been listed as Kipksi, Kepki and Kepke.