Riverside Motor Inn

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100 E Main now Malcom X. Street.

Note how the roof of the front porch extends of the porte cochere and how the driveway sloped downward, which must have been a struggle for the carriages that visited the home.

The home at 100 E. Main was built in 1875, which is supported by the 1874 Map of Lansing that showed no structures present on Block 177, Lot 11. An article from the Lansing State Journalstated that that the land was part of the original grant to William W. Townsend by the United States in the 1830s. (LSJ1/2/1964) I find it odd that no home was built on this site prior to 1875, it was a prime piece of property overlooking the Grand River on a high bluff. The home was built for James L. Stewart who had a marble business at 400 S. Washington, and designed and built, with his partner Edwin L. Hopkins, the Soldiers Monument at Mt. Cemetery in Lansing.

100 E. Main, Lansing, MI.

On the second floor, to the right of the gable, there are two windows on the façade of this structure, which is an obvious later addition. Note the fantastic gingerbread work on the gable and the decorative columns and spindles on the porch.

So, what happened to the home? Well if you look at the first image of the home you can see that there is a sign to the left of the photograph and in the above image you can see how the motel building wraps around the home. That was the Riverside Manor Motel, hailed at is opening in November of 1957 as a sign of the future development of the city. The residence at 100 E. Main was acquired by the Riverside Corporation in January 1964 and torn down soon afterward. A pool for the motel was installed where 100 E. Main once stood.

The Riverside Motor Inn, 102 E. Main, the name changed from Riverside Manor Motel in the 1960s. Note the umbrellas and the pool to the right in the above image, where 100 E. Main once stood. Placing the date of the above image after 1964.

The Riverside Motor Inn was acquired in 1971 by the Motel 6 Corporation, which decided in in 1978 that it was better to tear down the structure then renovate the building. In 1980 a new 120 room Motel 6 opened on the property, which included the site where 100 E. Main once stood. Later the Motel 6 Corporation, sold the hotel to another owner who renamed the motel the Deluxe Inn. The Deluxe Inn became a problem for the city, the motel morphed in to a location that the police visited on a regular basis. Shootings, drug overdoses, prostitution and a variety of nefarious dealings were common at the motel. The Deluxe Inn property was sold at a sheriff’s auction for back taxes in 2009. The building was torn down in 2010, panels from the motel were used to create the REO Town sign that now stand on the property. Essentially in the space of fifty years three structure were present on Block 177 Lots 10-11; 100 E. Main, Riverside Manor Motel and Motel 6. Now the site is an empty lot. More importantly the city lost a beautiful home. There is no doubt that whoever owned the property would face difficulty when Interstate 496 carved up the area resulting in the drop in the value of the property. The highway essentially cut off the development of the downtown core to the southward, isolating REO Town.

James L. Stewart was a bit of a mystery. He was born March 13, 1830 or 1831 in Ontario, Canada. He was married to an Annie Potter(?) and appeared in the 1871 Census of Canada, living in Elgin, Ontario, with Annie and working as a marble dealer. James was 40 at the time of the census and Annie was 34. The next record for James L. Stewart is the 1880 United States Census, where James was working in Lansing as a marble dealer and married to Wilda who is 17 years his junior. Annie died in 1906 and was buried in the Burdick Cemetery, Elgin County, Ontario. Her tombstone reads, Ann wife of Jas. L. Stewart. James was not buried in the Burdick Cemetery. The James, from the 1880 Census, died in San Diego, California on October 27, 1894, he was buried at Mount Hope Cemetery in San Diego. James had retired to, San Diego after living in Lansing. “James L Stewart, who was formerly engaged in the marble business in Lansing Mich., died at his home in San Diego Cal. aged 63 years.” (Stone and Illustrated Magazine, Vol X December 1894-May 1895) Wilda Stewart continued to live in San Diego, operating a boarding house. In the 1910-1930 Censuses she is living in an apartment in Long Beach, California. There is a death record for a Wildia Stewart, in San Francisco, California on July 10, 1931, that is the only record that has been located for Wilma. So, what does this all mean? Is it possible that James left Annie for a younger woman? It was odd that James L. Stewart was not buried with Annie in the Burdick Cemetery. Or did James abandon his wife and essential take a common law wife without annulling his first marriage? That could explain why he left Canada. Of course, this could all be wrong, there may have been two James L. Stewarts who were both marble dealers and born within a year of each other in the same location.

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