All posts for the month April, 2017


The Barnes’ Mansion in its prime

“We were shown on Monday a most beautiful piece of cabinet work in the shape of a library table designed for the residence of O.M. Barnes. It is of carved black walnut, highly polished and finished, and is 2 feet 9 inched wide by 5 feet in length. The design was furnished by Mr. Grosvenor of Jackson, but executed by our own mechanics. Chas. Wheeler, of the firm Wheeler & Fuller, doing the woodwork, and the finishing being done by Wm. Lanbcher [William H. Laubchere 1878 CD], who did the hardwood finishing at Mr. Barnes’ residence. (LR 8/2/1878)

It seems that Orlando Fleming Barnes inherited the library table and an article in a 1933 State Journal stated the Barnes has the library table in his apartment at the Porter; It would be of interest to learn if the library table exists today?

There is a special reference in the article in regards to the dining room, “Carving in the dining room seemed to transcend work usually done by even expert carpenters. The drawings for these carved designs were taken to a bed-ridden Lansing man named Ward, who lived in the rear of the present post office, northeast corner of Capitol and Michigan avenues. Ward was propped up in bed for his work.”[1] Another interesting fact from the article was that “Heat was supplied by indirect radiation. Radiators for the first floor were placed just below the flooring, or, against the ceiling of the basement. The heat rose through registers. Strangely enough, this device was decided upon as a means of saving floor space.” (LSJ 10/10/1933)

So what happened to this magnificent structure? Well the simple answer was it was torn down in 1957. But there is a lot more to the story. It may be best to begin with a short biography of Orlando Mack Barnes.

[1] The woodcarver was in all likelihood Waterman Ward, a well know Lansing resident and carpenter who was described as a ‘walking encyclopedia” of information. Ward was born in Middlebury, N.Y., on January 23, 1827 to Alanson and Olive Ward. In 1851 at the age of 24, Ward moved to Lansing, where he lived until his death January 20, 1884. On May 3, 1853, Ward married Miss Francis H. Hewitt, the couple had three children, Francis passed away on August 24, 1870. Ward married Mrs. Jane Gibson; a widow with two children on November 27, 1872 in Racine, Wisconsin and the couple had additional two children. The number of children Waterman had during his lifetime may actually exceed the seven children noted in his obituary; it may have surpassed ten children, several died as young children. Besides his skill as a woodcarver Ward was described at having a love for books on a variety of subjects and a naturalist who charted the flora and fauna of the area. He was a remarkable man and it was understandable why Barnes would have been drawn to this interesting individual. (LRTW 1/22/1884)

Nest part four!

© Lost Lansing 2017