The Porter Home on the South West Corner of Washington and Kalamazoo. (CADL/FPLA)
So sometimes it’s fun to look at an old image and see what we can learn from it. The other day I was on Forest Parke Library and Archive’s site, Local History Online, and I came across the above image of the Porter House on South Washington Avenue and Kalamazoo Street. The image was described as the E. H. Porter House, located on the south west corner of Washington and Kalamazoo. The home was owned by Edwin H. Porter, he acquired it from Charles W. Butler in 1871 in exchange for Porter’s home on Townsend Street. Charles was the son of Orange Butler, Charles was a developer who along with Edward Sparrow and John J. Bush platted the Bush, Butler & Sparrow’s Subdivision.
The Porter Home on the 1866 Bird’s Eye View.
The home was built circa 1862 by Charles and can be seen on the 1866 Bird’s Eye View of Lansing. Edwin Haines Porter was born in Onondaga, New York on December 16, 1822 to Seth John and Cynthia Miriam (née Haines) Porter. Edwin came to Michigan with his parents in 1832 and in 1846 married Miss Adeline E. Waiter, the couple had four children; Harvey, Charles, Alice and Nellie. Adeline Porter died in June 1866. During the Civil War, Edwin enlisted with the 4th Michigan Cavalry, serving as Quartermaster and was present at the capture of the Jefferson Davis. After the war, Edwin married Miss Emily E. Nash in 1867. Edwin passed away on May 6, 1912. (LSJ 5/6/1912)
An enlarged image of the Porter Home.
Before we continue with a history of the Porter residence, I thought it would be interesting to look at the house close-up. Notice how the porch extends around the home. There is a picturesque element to the structure. The gingerbread details on the lower and upper porch lend to the elegance of the home, coupled with the ornate widow’s walk made this one of the impressive homes in early Lansing.
An extreme close-up of the Porter Home.
So, you may think there is nothing of the above image, but look closely, I know it’s not much but this is the earliest image we have of the Freewill Baptist Church. Notice the steeple to the right of the widow’s walk. Between 1880 and 1882, Porter sold the home to Dr. Charles N. Hayden who the 1883 Lansing City Directory is listed as residing at 402 S. Washington, the house retained the 402 S. Washington address until 1894, the address changed to 111 W. Kalamazoo. Why? Well we are going to look at a series of maps that may help to explain what happened.
From the 1873 Lansing map. Notice the location and footprint of the Porter home and site of the Freewill Baptist Church.
This is an image the 1892 Lansing Sanborn Map. Notice that there is now a grocery business built on the front of Lot 1. This explains why the house number was 402 S. Washington. Also observe the shape of the Porter home, notice how it matches the shape on the 1873 map and the 1866 Bird’s Eye View. Also, the wrap around porch is present in all the images, except the next.
Above is an image from the 1898 Lansing Sanborn Map. Look how the home is was located to the back of the lot, away from the rear of the grocery building. I believe it is quite possible that the home was moved to the back of the lot and that the western single story structure was removed. Look at the layout of the home in 1898, it resembles the 1892 layout without the wrap around porch and single story wing. Is this conclusive proof, no but it needs to be considered? The 1906 and 1913 Lansing Sanborn Maps all show the same footprint for the home. In 1896, the address for Dr. Charles N. Hayden changed to 111 W. Kalamazoo. Dr. Hayden lived in the home until his death in 1902. The home at 111 W. Kalamazoo was torn down around 1935 and turned into a used car lot. Previous to that the home become a flop house.
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