All posts for the month March, 2017

Compare the previous articles to the next article and see how the description of the residence changed. The Bold Text was present in the original article.


Mayor Barnes’ New House

“At the head of Capitol avenue, on the most commanding building site in the city, stands the new house of Mayor O.M. Barnes. From time to time as the work progressed we have alluded to the beauty and stability of this structure; and now that the workmen are putting the finishing touches, which will make it complete in all its details, it is proper that our readers should have a description of what is now conceded to be as fine a dwelling as there is in Michigan. It is not denied that other cities have residences which cost perhaps three times the money which this building did; but prominent builders, who have visited it within the last few weeks, and whose occupation has made them familiar with the best houses of Detroit, Jackson, Grand Rapids, and the Saginaw, declare it to be equal to any in the state.

THE TOTAL COST will not be far from $40,000. It has been built at a time when lumber, brick, stone, and labor have been cheaper than for many years; besides this, Mr. Barnes has given his personal supervision to the work. His practical business experience and ability have enabled him to carry forward its erection both cheaply and thoroughly.

THE BUILDING SITE embraces between three and four acres of land fronting on Main street and Washington avenue, and previous to the purchase by Mr. Barnes it was known as the John J. Bush and Wm. Hinman homesteads.[1] These grounds extend southward to Grand river and are fully 75 feet above the water. The new house stands directly at the head of Capitol avenue. The grounds have been laid out by Adam Oliver[2]; the noted landscape gardener of Kalamazoo, and ere many will be keeping with the beautiful mansion, which adores them. There will be gravel roads with stone foundations, leading into the grounds both from Capitol and Washington avenues, while the walks leading directly to the house will be of stone.

THE HOUSE ITSELF. The general style of architecture is pointed Gothic. Its size is 62 by 72 feet, three stories in height, besides the basement, and it is covered with a slate roof. The foundation walls are rock-pitch face 31 to 36 inched thick, and rest on a thick layer of concrete. The outside walls area of sandstone from Stony Point, Jackson county. The partition walls are of brick and extend from the basement to roof. On the east side of the building is a tower 70 feet high, and from its top Lansing and the surrounding county appears like a map spread out before you. From several windows in the house, every train of cars entering the city can be seen.

THE BASEMENT. The basement floor is concrete, six inches thick. The sewers and drains are beneath this concrete floor. The basement extends under the whole house, and contains the heating apparatus, laundry, coal room and vegetable cellar.

THE HEATING APPARATUS put in by Cooley & Clements, of this city, consists of a 36 flue boiler, about 10 feet in length by 42 inches in diameter, with pipes leading to every part of the building. The system of heating is direct and indirect radiation combined. The apparatus was fully tested last winter and gave the best satisfaction. In all the principal rooms are grates that will burn both wood and coal.

THE VENTILATION is very complete. The air enters the air-chamber in the basement as high from the ground as it can be taken, and is conducted by means of flues into all the rooms of the house. In cold weather the air is heated on the way by passing through the steam coils.

LIGHTED BY GAS from basement to attic, with chandeliers in all the principal rooms. There are stone porches on the north and east, and wood porches on the south and west sides of the building.

THE MAIN ENTRANCE is from the north, fronting Capitol avenue, and there are also side entrances at the east and west. The east on[e] fronts on Washington avenue.


Front Porch

THE FIRST FLOOR. At the main entrance there is a vestibule, which opens into a hallway27 by 12½ feet. No one can pass through the massive outside door leading to the vestibule without admiring its beauty. It is of black walnut and the first thought is, where did the beautiful piece of workmanship come from? Inquiry brought the information that the wood grew in Michigan, and the A. Wise & Co., of this city made the door. Further, that this firm supplies the doors, sash, and blinds for the building throughout. The floor of the vestibule is of encaustic tile, and the inner door is of black walnut and butternut [Encaustic tile is ceramic tile made with different color clay to create a design].


Entryway Fireplace

At the south end of the hall is a cheerful fireplace, surmounted with a mantel of Tennessee marble. A fireplace in a hall is not a common feature in the country, but it certainly gives an air of hospitability to an entrance room and in cold weather is useful as well as ornamental. Snow-white walls greet the eyes and the wainscoting is black walnut with butternut panels.

At the southeast corner of the room is a beautiful BLACK WALNUT STAIRCASE of a new and graceful pattern, designed by architect Grosvenor. The work was executed by H. N. King of Adrian, who is said to be one of the best carvers and stair builders in the west.[3] The floor of the hall is of wood and will be carpeted.


East Parlor

THE PARLORS. Sliding doors open into a parlor on each side of the hall. The parlor on the east is 17 by 18 feet and the one on the west, 16 by 27 feet. These rooms are finished in Butternut, and there is a bay window in each. In the east parlor is a fireplace with a mantel of black walnut.

THE LIBRARY ROOM is south of the east parlor, 16 by 20 feet, with one large bay window looking to the east, and an alcove adjoining contains a handsome walnut writing desk. The library room is elegantly finished in black walnut, with commodious bookcases and is handsome and very pleasant. Its south doors open into a conservatory 11 by 28 feet, from which is obtained a fine view of [the] Grand river, the railroads, bridges and charming country to the south, while from the bay window in the library there is an east, south and north view. West of the library is a bedroom 12 by 19 feet, with a large bathroom adjoining.

THE DINING ROOM is located in the south part of the house, with a door leading into it from the hall. It is 14 by 25 feet, finished in Michigan oak, and is not only the most useful but one of the handsomest rooms in the house. The kitchen, china closet, and storerooms are adjoining the dining room and area all finished in oak. They are supplied with all the improvements which serve to make the work of the “women folk” easy. On the west side of the house is a sewing room 9 by 10 feet, with variegated floor, designed to be used without a carpet.

THE SECOND FLOOR is divided into rooms for the family and two suites of rooms for guests. Two of these suites are finished in oak and the other rooms in butternut. The size of the principal rooms on this floor are 16 by 18 feet, 16 by 20, 14 by 21, 15 by 16 and 11 by 14. This floor is supplied with dressing rooms, bathrooms, abundant closets and a sewing room.

THE ATTIC on the third floor contains five bedrooms, besides a hall 26 by 30 feet, which may be used for dance parties, or playground in stormy weather.

In a description of this kind there are many conveniences, which cannot be mentioned, but among the miscellaneous features are hot and cold water pipes leading to every floor, and burglar alarms to sound the warning notes at every door and window.

There is little danger from fire, for, as we have already said, the partition walls are of brick from basement to roof, and the floors throughout are double with a thick coating of cement between.

WHO DID THE WORK L.D. Grosvenor of Jackson drew the plans for this building. H.D. Mason had the contract for furnishing material and superintending the work, but other business so occupied his time that Mr. Barnes released him from his contract and took that part of the work into his own hands.

D.K. Fuller has had charge of the carpenter work, and he called to his aid such workmen as S.B. Hough, C.E. Wheeler, Waterman Ward, Timothy Lloyd, and other Lansing mechanics [Dorman K. Fuller, Sylvester B. Hough, Charles E. Wheeler, Waterman Ward, Timothy Lloyd]. They have left a monument of their skill, which plainly says there is no use in going away from home in order to get the highest degree of workmanship.

The mason work is in keeping with the carpentry work, and was principally done by C.H. Axtell, Frank Brigham, and Wm. Barrett. [Charles H. Axtell, Frank Brigham, and William Barrett]

The painting was done by A.L. Baker of this city. [Abner L. Baker]

The finishing work on the stairways, bookcases, etc., has been done by J. Laubscher. [William H. Laubchere]

M.H. Cahill has had charge of putting up the beautiful mantels of Tennessee marble, finished by the Schureman & Hand mantel company of Chicago.

THE STRIKING FEATURES of the building as a whole are the durability, beauty of for, superior workmanship, elegance of finish without any effort at fancy ornamentation and a general appearance that everything was made to be used. In the construction of this mansion, also in the arrangement of the beautiful grounds surrounding it, Mayor Barnes has kept in view the attractiveness of the capital city of Michigan, as well as made a most enjoyable home for his family. (LR 7/27/1877)

[1] I have never been able to locate an image of the Hinman House but given the outline on early Lansing maps it must have been spectacular.

[2] Adam Oliver is a fascinating man who life and work is still waiting for a biographer.

[3] Henry N. King served with the 47th Ohio Infantry, Company F as a First Lieutenant, in early 1863 he was promoted to the rank of Captain. King served at Vicksburg and was part of Sherman’s Army that marched on Atlanta. After the war he became a craftsman specializing in woodcarving and the building of ornate staircases. Later in life he became an expert in building water works. King supervised the construction of the Fort Worth water works as well as several others water works across the United States. In 1900 King patented a rural mailbox, which for many years was the standard county mailbox. King from all accounts was a fascinating man.

Part Three coming soon!

© Lost Lansing 2017