George W. Bement’s Residence at 418 W. Michigan in Lansing, Michigan, a home that he treasured and never wanted to leave. (FPLA/CADL)
The George W. Bement residence at 418 W. Michigan Avenue was one of a number of remarkable homes that were just west of the Capitol building. On Walnut Street there was the home of Horatio H. Larned at 102 S. Walnut, A.C. Stebbins’ residence at 109 N. Walnut, the James Appleyard house at 123 N. Walnut. Along West Michigan Avenue was the boarding house of Margaret D. Waller at 422 W. Michigan and John N. Alexander’s home at 501 W. Michigan. The Bement home was a truly beautiful residence. The three-story tower is the most striking architectural feature of the home. Note how the windows on the tower are stacked in a balanced manner, three windows over three over three. Observe the details above and below the second floor windows, a half round with a keystone over windows with what seems to be an inlay of a typical American bastion fort under the window. You can see that under the witch’s cap roof of the tower were a circle motif that was continued above the double Tuscan columns on the porch. The porch has an attractive balustrade that consists of some thin balustershafts that almost make railing disappear. The ornamental garland above the second floor lends a formality to the residence. Overall this was a very pleasing home that would have look magnificent in its multi-color paint scheme. With the expansion of the Capitol Complex the home was torn down in 1955.
Customarily, if you follow this site, I usually have a brief history of the original home owner. But this time I thought it would be interesting to review the life of George Bement’s wife, Sarah ‘Rillie’ Marilda Finsthwait. Sarah was born on December 29, 1850 in Federalsburg, Caroline County, Maryland. In the 1870 Census Sarah is listed as Rillie Finstwait [Finsthwait] and keeping house for Frank Finstwait [Finsthwait] in Fostoria, Ohio. Frank had leased the Hays House (Hotel) from Thomas and Elizabeth Hay. There was some concern in Fostoria regarding the fact that Frank would be selling liquor in the previously dry hotel.(Tiffin Tribune10/29/1869) It is unclear from the census records just what was the relationship between Frank and Rillie Finstwait [Finsthwait], but they seem to have been brother and sister. One the residents of the hotel in 1870 was George Bement who was working as clerk in a local dry goods store. On June 13, 1872 Sarah married George Bement in West Middlesex, Pennsylvania. The couple had two children; Frank H. and Howard Bement. Throughout her life Sarah was active in many local groups in Lansing, she was a member of the U&I Club and the Up-to-Date Club. At these meetings Sarah presented papers on a variety of religious topics; The Modern Conception of Religious Education and The Gospel and the Poor are just two of the titles. During the First World War, Sarah was active in the Lansing Red Cross. Sarah was also a member of the Plymouth Congregational Church. After the death of her husband George in 1903, Sarah lived the next 36 years at the family home at 418 W. Michigan until her death on February 24, 1939. (LSJ2/24/1939)
©Lost Lansing 2019
In all likelihood this was Franklin Buchanan Finsthwait (1841-1924) married to Caroline Everhart Finsthwait (1848-1935). After leaving Fostoria Frank move to Pittsburg, PA.