One interesting puzzle is the YMCA sketch that appeared in the 1906 Lansing City Directory advertisement for the architectural firm of White & Hussy, the image is reproduced above, notice that the building only has a basement and three floors. The basement contained two bowling lanes, a swimming pool, changing rooms and a barber shop. The first floor had a gymnasium, parlor, reading room and library, a dance area, spa and reception rooms. The second floor contained three class rooms, three club rooms, a boy’s area and a running track that was part of the gym. The third floor had 14 private rooms for residents.
But when the building open it had four floor. So, what happened? In October 1906, it was decided to add an additional floor to the YMCA Building. The original plans called for dormitory rooms on the third floor, but because of the height of the gym roof the number of private rooms was limited to fourteen. With the addition of the fourth-floor there would be 54 rooms in the building. It seems that there was always an idea to add a fourth floor a little later to the building, but the realization that it would cost and additional $3,000 to remove the roof and $4,000 to build the fourth-floor addition prompted the building committee to add the fourth floor during the erection of the structure rather than later. The cost to add the fourth floor was $4,000 and it was left unfinished until the building was completed and furnished free of debt. I have not been able to locate when the fourth floor was finished, but all indications were that it did not occur until 1910. One odd aspect is that there were 14 rooms on the third floor and 27 on the fourth floor, so it is a mystery where the 54 room figure came from?
The YMCA first began in Lansing on January 19, 1877 when a group of Lansing’s leading citizens met to form the local branch of the Young Men’s Christian Association. On February 9, 1877, LeRoy Blood was elected President while Louis DeLamarter, pastor of Central Methodist Church was elected Vice President of the local YMCA. The first meetings of the organization were held at Bartlett Hall, located behind the Lansing House in the 100 block of W. Washtenaw Street. In 1884 the Lansing, YMCA disbanded in Lansing. For 20 years, there was no YMCA in Lansing. That all change with the turn of the new century, Lansing’s leading citizens, Olds. Prudden, Herrmann, VanDervoort and Lyons reestablished the YMCA and acquired the property in the 100 block of West Michigan Avenue where the YMCA building was constructed and stood until a new building was constructed on West Lenawee Street in 1951. The old YMCA building was torn down to make room for Lansing’s new City hall and police headquarters, City Hall was renamed in honor of a former Lansing mayor David Hollister on August 14, 2017. And if the current administration gets it wish the David Hollister Building will be torn down. Lansing is weird sometimes.
Architects Thomas E. White and Harry Hussey are names long forgotten in Lansing, many the structures they designed are no more, at least in Lansing. But their lives and buildings are another story. Trust me when I say White & Hussey were an interesting pair.
© Lost Lansing 2017