All posts for the month September, 2017

Well I decided to look at the Edward Cahill home that was in the news regarding the destruction of the Scott (Jenison) house with the building of the Board of Water and Light Substation. One of the problems with the building of this white elephant is that the Scott Sunken Garden, which was fabricated using the foundation of the Cahill Home would be destroyed. Yep I know, most cities embrace their waterfront property and build condos, expensive homes, apartments or parks on their riverfront. Oh, wait this was a park. So much for city planning. The fact that we did not know just what the Cahill Home look like bothered me so I thought I would do some work on the topic. No detailed photograph of the Cahill Home exists, I decided to look at images of the R.E. Olds Mansion. Why, because Olds Mansion was located directly north of the Cahill Residence and the Olds Mansion was one of the most photographed residence’s in the city. After completing that task, I found two intriguing images of the Cahill home. First a little background on Edward Cahill.

Edward Cahill

Edward Cahill was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan on August 3, 1843 to Abraham and Frances Maria (née Marsh) Cahill. He attended the local schools then Kalamazoo College, where he met Miss Lucy Crawford, who he later married. At the age of 13 Edward became a messenger for the Michigan Legislature, where he worked from 1857-1859. In 1860, he became an apprentice printer for the Kalamazoo Gazette. With the start of the Civil War, Edward enlisted in the 89th Illinois Volunteer Infantry, Company A, but was discharged 6 months later due to illness. In the Fall of 1863 he became a Captain with the 102nd U.S. Colored Infantry Regiment, Company D, and saw action at Battle of Honey Hill, Deveaux Neck, Salkehatchie Bradford’s Springs and Swift’s Creek. After the war, Edward lived in St. Johns, Michigan where he was admitted to the state bar in 1866. In June of 1871 he moved to the Chicago to open a law practice. He survived the Chicago fire of October of 1871 and moved to Lansing in August of 1873. Two years later Edward formed a law practice with Judge Albert E. Cowles which lasted until 1881. He later formed practices with Russell C. Ostrander and Clark C. Wood. In 1890, he was appointed to the Michigan Supreme Court. Edward later served in a variety of legal capacities with several Michigan Governor’s.

1873 Map of the property, notice the footprint of the home.

Edward married Miss Lucy Crawford on June 11, 1867, the couple had five children, Clara, Margaret, Clark, Charles E. and one unknown. Lucy passed away at her home in Lansing on June 26, 1918. On June 28, 1922, Edward married Mrs. Mary Benbow Crawford of Greensboro, North Carolina. After traveling by steamship from Buffalo, Edward died at his cottage at Roaring Brook, Michigan on July 27, 1922, a month after his wedding.[1]

The 1906 Sanborn Map of the home, notice the footprint of the house

The home may have been built prior to 1873, The County Atlas of Ingham, Michigan, 1873 seems to bear this out, see image. Notice that the footprint of the home is almost the same as the 1906 Sanborn image of the home. There are differences. Notice the shape of the structures similar but different. The original home may have been built for John J. Bush Sr. an early settler and real estate speculator. The LSJ obituary of Edward Cahill stated that he lived at 101 W. Main for 45 years, that would put the building or remodeling of the home at 1877.[2] Was in a new build or a remodel? That has yet to be determined. What is known is that Richard Scott, after he acquired the property when Cahill died and divided the home into two separate residences, 101 W. Main and 103 W. Main. Maurice M. Scott, Richard’s son lived at 101 W. Main, while Andrew B Dougherty resided at 103 W. Main. On January 12, 1929, there was a fire in the kitchen of 103 W. Main, the fire was contained, but the risk to Richard Scott’s home was too great for him to have ignored, or the fire damage to the structure was greater them reported in the Lansing State Journal.[3] In December of 1929, Richard Scott engaged the services of Capitol City Wrecking Company and the home at 101-103 W. Main was dismantled and portions sold off as scrap.[4]

The Cahill residence, the porch in the foreground is that of the Olds Mansion

The home was a frame structure and in many ways very elegant, but a little off balanced. From the images, it seems the western wing of the home was built prior to the eastern, which gives credence that the home was remodeled and was built far earlier then 1877. The Georgian Colonial Revival style of the home with the façade column on the western portion of the home lend an elegance to the structure.

Observe the size of this home, it must have ben at least 300 square feet

You can see that the structure is off balance, the eastern side of the building is much smaller than the western side, especially when you consider the placement of the porch with the offset entrance. Notice how the windows and doors on the porch section are stacked three over three then one. All odd numbers. While in the western wing, the windows are stacked two over the two split pane windows on the second floor. The eastern wing seems symmetrical, but due to the limitations of the images this cannot be determined. There also is a bay window on the eastern side of the structure. I like this home, it must have been quirky and large. Was it a lost for Lansing? It sure was!


[1] See Past and present of the city of Lansing and Ingham county, Michigan, by Albert E. Cowles, p 171, Men of progress: embracing biographical sketches of representative Michigan men, p 85, LSJ 6/27/1918, and LSJ 5/28/1922

[2] LSJ 7/28/1922.

[3] LSJ 1/14/1929.

[4] LSJ 12/7/1929.

© Lost Lansing 2017