J.H. Moores

All posts tagged J.H. Moores

One day after walking my dog along the Lansing River Trail I ended up in Moores’ Park. I like to visit the park in the fall to look at the leaves, sit on the stands for the pool and just enjoy the view of river, park and the Eckert Power Plant. I know weird, but the Eckert Power Plant is an interesting structure to see, especially in the fading light of a late fall day. So, since I was in Moores Park, I decided to explore the homes that James Henry Moores owned in Lansing. It has been difficult to trace where J. H. Moores lived prior to the construction of the home at 303 W. Allegan. The 1873 Lansing City Directory listed a J Henry Mores as residing with Rev. J. Evarts Weed, east of Pennsylvania Avenue. Rev. Weed was the pastor for the First Presbyterian Church in Lansing for five years, 1865-1870 and then became a partner with J.H. Moores in his land business. Moores’ next residence was on Kalamazoo Street, the 1878 Lansing City Directory has Moores living on the southside of Kalamazoo, just east of Chestnut Street, no image of the house survives. The first home that we can identify with Moores, is the house he had built at 303 W. Allegan Street, across from the Capitol. A location that was one of the prime building sites in the city and Moores home did not disappoint.

303 W. Allegan, Lansing, MI.

In this image the you can see the entrance on the side, the random pattern of the fieldstone foundation and if you look closely the third-floor porch on the tower.

The magnificent an architecturally original home at 303 W. Allegan was designed by Jackson architect, Lemuel Dwight Grosvenor for James H. Moores in 1885-1885. Below is a description of the Moores’ home published from the State Republican in 1886.


The New Residence of Mr. J.H. Moores on Allegan Street

“Many handsome homes have been erected in Lansing this year, but by all odds the most striking exterior is that of Mr. J.H. Moores’ new residence, at the corner of Allegan and Townsend streets, which reached completion this week. The building is a novel combination of the Northern and Southern styles of architecture. The venture was a daring one, but it has proved successful and picturesque in the extreme.

At the northwest [northeast] corner is a tower following many of the Norman lines; on the east side is an Oriental oriel tower; everywhere there are cosy [cozy] porches, odd little balconies and graceful angles. There are no weak sides to the structure. From whatever side or corner, it is viewed the effect is equally pleasing. The building is painted a rich dark red with dark olive-green trimmings, and the foundation walls, which are of fieldstone square but left rock-faced, are laid in a novel hit-or-miss pattern.

The interior is probably the handsomest in the city. The front entrance  at the side of the oriel tower connects with a large hall finished in cherry, and from this hall open the dining room, reception room, parlor and library. Wide sliding doors enable the family to instantly transform all these into a magnificent suite, and with the single exception of the library all are furnished with extremely handsome fireplaces.

The dining room is finished in black walnut, the others in cherry, the fireplaces in the parlor and reception room have mohoganized cherry mantels with tile work and oxidized brass mountings. The windows are broad, low and deep. In the reception room a pretty bit of art in the shape of a small window of stained glass depicts Cupid amid the flowers. The pantry, kitchen, china closet, and the smaller rooms are finished in the natural color of the wood.

The front stairway with its rich cherry mountings, occupies the oriel tower, a stained-glass window at the first landing adding materially to its attractive appearance. There are four large front chambers on the second floor, fitted with handsome fire places in rich marbleized slate and affording magnificent views of the city from their numerous windows. In the rear are the bathrooms and smaller sleeping rooms.

The building is provided with every possible convenience in the shape of dressing rooms, closets, hot and cold water, gas and electric bells. The cellar runs the entire length of the house, and is divided into laundry, coal room, furnace room and vegetable cellar. The masonry was done by Chittenden, the building by Fuller & Wheeler and the painting by Voiselle & Larose. Most of the timber used in the structure was taken from Mr. Moores’ pine lands in Northern Michigan.” (SR 10/15/1886)

This must have been a fascinating home to see in its prime, especially the interior. There is so much going on, architecturally it is overwhelming.

A poor image of the Moores’ home. Note the two balconies on the facade and the Oriental oriel tower. I have no idea why this was described as an Oriental oriel tower? It is an oriel window. Note the hood over the front porch entrance, it resembles a witch’s cap normally seen on a tower, here it is a quartered segmented covering that many have served as an ornamental detail versus a functional one.

In October of 1893, James exchanged his home at 303 W. Allegan for one at 501 S. Washington with Cornelius A. Gower. Why? Well it may have been a result of the Panic of 1893 which resulted in a 43% unemployment rate in Michigan. In 1893 there was a run on gold, yes, the USA was on the gold standard, when the Reading Railroad Company, yes, the one in Monopoly, went in to receivership triggering the run on gold. Over 500 banks closed, businesses failed, and farmers simply stopped farming. The result was a migration to cities by the rural poor. Detroit’s Mayor Hazen S. Pingree instituted a public works program in the city for the unemployed and created the Pingree’s Potato Patch, which allowed citizens to farm lots in the city. Seems like history always repeats itself. Turner, in his history of Ingham County suggested the Panic of 1896 as the reason for Moores’ financial ruin. The Panic of 1896 was for all practical purposes a continuation of the Panic of 1893.(Turner 573) No image of the Gower home at 501 S. Washington survives, the home on South Washington was torn down in 1890-1891 to erect the Glaister building.

In the image you can see the roof cresting with finials across the roof’s ridge line. Does the front of the home seem unbalanced with the location of the porch on the side and the small windows under the second-floor and third-floor balconies?

An enlargement of the facade of Moores’ home on Allegan Street. Note the third-floor balcony with its large supports and the spaced spindles on the balustrade, an element that is not up to code today. You can also observe the paintwork on the third-floor fish-scale siding, repeated on the face of the front gables.

Cornelius A. Gower

So, who was the man that J.H. Moores traded houses with. Cornelius A. Gower was born in Abbott, Maine on July 30, 1845, the son of Cornelius N. and Abigail (née Hawes) Gower. He attended Colby University in Waterville, Maine, and the University of Michigan where he graduated with a degree in Literature in 1867 and law in 1869. After graduation he accepted a position as principal of the public schools in Fenton and three years later became Superintendent of the Genesee County School system, a position he held until 1871. In 1871 he became Superintendent of the Saginaw Public Schools. In 1878 Gower was appointed the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, by Governor Croswell a posting Gower retained until 1881 when he became Superintendent of the Boys Industrial School, a situation he kept until 1892. After leaving the Boys Industrial School Gower served as Vice President of the Capitol Savings & Loan Company. On September 12, 1871 Cornelius married Miss Dora L. Walton in Fenton, Michigan, the couple had three children; Helen D., Charles A., and Clara A. Gower. Cornelius  died at his residence in the Porter Apartments on Thursday, January 14, 1932. See LSJ 1/15/1932 and Portrait & Biographical Album 248.

Architect Bowd’s design for the Wolverine Insurance Company and Michigan Employers’ Casualty Company building at 300 W. Allegan. (LSJ 5/26/1921)

The Wolverine Insurance Company purchased the home from the Gower estate in 1920 and remodeled the structure to serve as their headquarters. In 1921 the business engaged the services of architect, Edwyn A. Bowd to design a new building for the company to be situated on the property after the home was torn down. The structure was never built due to cost, a smaller Wolverine Insurance Company building was constructed at 232 S. Capitol in 1924-1925. The home at 303 W. Allegan was torn down in May of 1926 with little fanfare, the structure took over 30 days to tear down because the Lansing Housewrecking Company was stripping the building of the white pine, cherry and other specialty woods used in the home’s construction. The site was briefly the home of a Y.M.C.A. playground until it was replaced by the new Lansing Post Office and Federal Building that currently occupies the site. (LSJ6/1/1926)

Coming soon. Moores’ financial recovery and his home at 500 Townsend.

©Lost Lansing 2019


Belvidere Park


The Park Place Addition’s Plat is Recorded and by Summer Lansing is to have a Thriving Annex

The plat for the Hollister & Skinner addition to the city of Lansing has been recorded, and men are now at work preparing the tract for the spring building. The plat is between baker street, the first street south of the C. &G.T. depot, and Linden avenues and Washington avenue, and a line marking some seven blocks to the west. It is platted into lots of four by ten rods, in blocks of ten lots, with alleyways and streets all laid out. There are 265 lots in all, covering a tract of land 116 acres in extent. There are ten avenues named Sparrow, Barnes, Smith, Beale, Osband, Bradley, Davis, Todd and Coleman, and Peck and Bank streets.

The great feature of the new addition if Belvidere park, a large tract adjoining the river just above Glen island. It is dedicated to the public, and will when completed make one of the prettiest resorts in the city. In the center will be a sizeable lake named Jordan lake, after Rev. H.S. Jordan. On a high hill in the western portion will be a summerhouse to be known, as Temple Hill house, and a pavilion will be erected in the southern portion of the park, adjoining the addition proper. A boat-house on Jordan lake will be a continual source of pleasure during the summer months, and the river is to be easily reached by a pleasant stream of water that will land the boating parties directly back of Glen island, which is one of the most charming islands to be found in the vicinity of Lansing. The park is threaded with pleasure walks and drives, and in fact, the whole is planned with admirable judgment.

The street railway will enter the addition at Barnes avenue about midway between Baker street and Linden avenue; and at Bank street, which runs southwestward with the L.S. & M.S. railway.

On Barnes avenue the street railway will run west through fully three quarters of the addition terminating with a depot on Bradley avenue, only a block from the park entrance, which is reached by passing over two charming rustic bridges. The extreme southern portion of the addition, between Smith and Linden avenues, will be devoted entirely to the manufacturing purposes, and the right-of-way has been reserved through blocks 18-23 inclusive for a L.S. & M.S. Sidetrack.

M.D. Skinner has a force of men at work on Belvidere park even now, and by the last of April will have it entirely completed. The addition is to be known as Park Place addition, and is owned by Marion D. and Clare A. Skinner. Negotiations are already in progress for factories and the addition promises to be invaluable in building up the southern portion of the city. State Republican 12/6/1890


A New Resort

E.C. Beecher will erect a Hotel at Belvidere Park

It Will Cost About $15,000 and Will be Fitted with All Modern Improvements — The Place Will be Opened on July 15 — Description of the Spot.

Lansing will soon have another resort, which will vie with Leadley’s park for the patronage of the people.

The beautiful Belvidere park at the terminus of the Washington avenue streetcar line is to be opened up by E.C. Beecher, formerly manager of Leadley’s park, who will erect thereon a beautiful $15,000 hotel and casino, the plans of which are now being draughted by Frank L. Hollister of Saginaw.

There is no more beautiful site in central Michigan for such a resort. The park is heavily wooded and will be laid out in beautiful drives and walks. The ground slopes gradually back from the beautiful bend in Grand river until it reaches a high ridge, on which the hotel will be built. facing the river and fronting on what is now known as Sparrow avenue. Through the middle of the woods runs a creek, which will be bridged at intervals with rustic bridges, thus adding much to the beauty of the spot.

The hotel itself will be a model of beauty and modern architecture. It will be a two-story frame, surrounded on three sides by a 16-foot veranda and promenade. In dimensions it will be 132×192 feet.

On the first floor will be a dance hall. 92×60 feet in dimensions, a reception room and lunch counter. The doors opening on the promenade will be made to swing upward so that the whole first floor will be practically converted into a fine, cool, summer house, through which the cool breezes can blow to cool the heated brow of pleasure seekers.

On the second floor will be the living apartments of Mr. Beecher, a large public dining room and a reception room. Like the first floor, this too opens on a large veranda.

The scenery surrounding the spot is exceedingly picturesque. A short distance down river rises Belle island, while above the grounds the swift flowing rapids almost verging into a waterfall will prove a continual source of pleasure to sightseers. A steamboat will without doubt be added to the accommodations, which will ply between the city and the resort, while at the grounds good boats will make the pastime of boating a rare pleasure.

Work will be commenced on the erection of the building about May 15, and it will be hurried through to completion so that it is expected that by July 15 the grounds will be opened to the public. State Republican 4/26/1893

[What follows is a series of short articles on Belvidere Park. Editor]

The work on the new hotel at Belvidere resort is progressing rapidly. At the beginning of next week Mr. Beecher will put on a force of fifty-two men and will push the work through to completion.  State Republican 5/13/1893

Work on the pavilion “Columbia,” at Belvidere park is progressing rapidly and the park will be open to the public by July 1. Manger Beecher has a force of about fifty-two men at work. State Republican 5/19/1893

Yesterday witnessed the opening of a second resort for pleasure seekers who wish a few hours’ relief from the humdrum of city life and a breath of pure fresh air, scented with new-mowed hay, wild roses, etc. It was practically the opening day for what is destined to be one of the best paying schemes of the capital city. Belvidere park just south of the city. Prince’s band was in attendance and hundreds of people took advantage of the bright day to view the grounds. To be sure, things as yet are somewhat rustic, but time and money will remedy this. Manager Beecher has the “get there” qualities to make the scheme go, and a few weeks even will mark a decided change. It is promised that the new pavilion will be ready for use by July 4. The bathhouses are already completed. State Republican 6/12/1893


Manager Beecher Arranges More Entertainment for His Visitors.

Lansing people will evidently not be in lack of amusement this summer. Two excellent resorts have sprung up within as many years and offer splendid attractions for pleasure seekers. Manager Beecher of Belvidere park is making every effort possible to bring his resort to the front, and is seeming to even outdo all his former successful attempts. He is now arranging for a series of excellent entertainments or exhibitions, to be given under an immense pavilion, with seating capacity or 1,500.

The first of this series will be given on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of this week. A company of artists has been secured and performances will be given twice daily during their stay. Each day at 2 o’clock, a lady will make the foolhardy and marvelous drop of 175 feet from the top of the pavilion to the ground, hanging by her teeth from a wire cable. Immediately after this daring feat, the performance in the pavilion will begin. The evening entertainments will begin at 7:30 o’clock.

In connection with this company is a band of ten pieces that will furnish music and also parade the streets at noon. New attractions will be given every week. State Republican 6/14/1893

The mystery is when Belvidere Park closed. James Henry Moores acquired the land in about 1898-1900 and worked to improve the property. He installed retaining walls, several bridges and his personal zoo, yep a zoo, whose inhabitants were the first residents of the Potter Park Zoo. The property was deed to the city by Moores on December 21, 1908. The donation encompassed 18 acres of land, with the stipulation by Moores that the property be named Moores Park. (LJ 12/22/1908 and SR 12/22/1908) .

The inscription on the plaque mounted on the pedestals at the entrance to the park reads:


Presented to the




December 1908

“I shall pass through this world but once:

if therefore there be any good thing I can do to any fellow human beings

let me do it now, for I shall not pass this way again.”

In 1878 Schuyler Seager, a friend of Moores gave him that inscription on a note which he on his desk where if remained throughout his life. The origin of the quote is disputed and is currently attributed to an unknown Quaker, there are several variants of the quotation.