Visit Lansing’s past at these iconic historic homes

As the state capital of Michigan, Lansing is steeped in history.

But this story is not limited to museums or government buildings. This can be seen walking down the street admiring the town’s historic houses, which provide a glimpse into how Lansing has changed over the past 160 years.

“It gives you an idea of ​​what the world was like back then and probably piqued your curiosity about who lived there, what they did, how they made their money,” said Bill Castanier, president of the Grand Lansing Historical Society. . “It’s part of the arts and culture of a community, a sense of belonging.”

Here are some historic houses to discover in Lansing:

Turner-Dodge House

100 E. North St., Lansing.

When the sun hits the windows of the Turner-Dodge house at the right angle, the light is captured by the French lead crystal glass and projects colored prisms through its rooms. It also draws attention to the gleaming woodwork.

“People are just overwhelmed by the beauty,” said Barbara Loyer, guide and events manager at Turner-Dodge House and Heritage Center.

A view of the library inside the Turner-Dodge House and Heritage Center on Thursday, November 18, 2021 in Lansing.

The building is more than a beautiful home. This is the story of Lansing’s beginnings.

The owner, James Turner, was a notable merchant, financier, land agent, and politician, and was instrumental in establishing Lansing as the state capital.

“Mr. Turner was the originator of everything about Lansing,” Loyer said.

Realizing that the legislature wanted to move the capital from Detroit to a central city, Turner secured land and funding in the Lansing area. He also worked on improving transportation to the city and was instrumental in the construction of the Lansing and Howell Plank Road and the installation of rail lines in the city.

“Whenever there was a need, he sort of stepped in and solved it,” Loyer said.

Although the house was not the first to be built in Lansing, it is among the oldest. Completed in 1858, the original house was built in the Greek Revival style, which is distinguished by its white columns and other details reminiscent of ancient Greek architecture.

The fashionable architecture pointed to the Turner family’s roots in Cazenovia, New York, Loyer said, and it would have stood out in Lansing’s swampy wilderness at the time.

The two-story brick Turner House had six bedrooms, a dining room, and a living room. The kitchen was in the basement, as were the Turner’s staff rooms.

A view of the Music Room inside the Turner-Dodge Home and Heritage Center on Thursday, November 18, 2021 in Lansing.

After Turner’s death, her daughter Abigail and her husband, Frank Dodge, took over the house.

The couple renovated it around the turn of the century, completing a neoclassical addition in 1903. The architect was Darius Moon, who worked on hundreds of other projects in Lansing in the mid-19th and early 20th centuries.

Nowadays the house is owned by the city and people can make an appointment to visit it. Tours are available Tuesday through Thursday between 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. Groups of more than 10 people can schedule a visit for different days.

From December 18 to January 1, the Turner-Dodge House is organizing a holiday open house. Hours are Tuesday to Thursday from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. The house will be open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and New Year’s Day from noon to 5 p.m. Admission is $ 5 and children 12 and under are free.

Rogers-Carrier House and Herrmann House

528 and 520 N. Capitol Ave., Lansing.

The Rogers-Carrier House at 528 N. Capitol Ave., photographed Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

Located on the campus of Lansing Community College, Rogers-Carrier House is one of Lansing’s so-called “Moon Houses”, designed by the same Darius Moon who worked on the renovation of Turner-Dodge.

Unlike the Turner-Dodge House, the Rogers-Carrier House is in the signature architectural style of Moon, Queen Anne.

The style, popular between 1880 and 1910, is known for its decorative woodwork, asymmetrical front façades, sloping roofs and round towers, all of which are present on the Rogers-Carrier House.

The house was built in 1891 for HM Rogers, a local real estate agent. Lansing Community College purchased the structure in 1967 and used it as a bookstore. Architecture students from the college began restoration work on the house in 1982. Currently, the house is used by the college for storage.

Next to the Rogers-Carrier house is the Herrmann house.

Originally built in 1893 for Lansing tailor John T. Herrmann, this Tudor-style house was purchased by LCC in 1967 for use as the faculty’s conference center. Although the house still belongs to Lansing Community College, it was renovated and preserved around 2010 and is now home to the president of the college.

The brick facade, sloping roof, triangular gables and narrow windows are all nods to the Tudor style, making the house a little English mansion.

The Herrmann House at 520 N. Capitol Ave., photographed Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

“These two houses have a unique history,” said David Siwik, project manager and instructional design consultant at Lansing Community College. “These are finely preserved examples of what this neighborhood on the north side of downtown looked like about 100 years ago.”

The college offers tours of both buildings, which can be arranged by contacting Lansing Community College.

“These are real architectural gems that we have in the community, and the college’s commitment to preserving them and to some extent opening them up to the public is a real plus,” Siwik said. “A lot of old houses like this are private residences, so it’s not very easy to get in.”

Newbrough House and 1025 N. Washington Ave.

615 N. Capitol Ave. and 1025 N. Washington Ave., Lansing.

The Newbrough House is located at 615 N. Capitol Ave.  Wednesday, November 24, 2021.

Lansing Community College isn’t the only place to find historic homes downtown.

Driving north along Capitol Avenue towards Oakland and Washington Avenues, you’ll find several well-preserved homes.

“At one time this would have been one of the main streets in Lansing,” Castanier said. “There are some really spectacular houses.”

The Newbrough House is located at 615 N. Capitol Ave. The house was built by William Newbrough around 1915 and is typical of the combination of architectural styles popular just before WWI. Newbrough was president of the New Way Motor Company, a manufacturer of gasoline-powered engines. From 1931 to 1951, the house served as the headquarters of the Auto Owners Insurance Company.

Along North Washington Avenue there are also several impressive houses to see, Castanier said, many of which date from the 1850s and 1860s. Note 1025 N. Washington Ave., the home of the first postmaster of Lansing, George Washington Peck.

Moores River Drive neighborhood

Historically important and still an area in demand, the Moores River Drive neighborhood is another place to see interesting homes, Castanier said. At this time of year, many of them are decorated for the holidays.

The Ray Potter House, located at 1348 Cambridge Road, is well known as one of the most lavish homes in Lansing. The Tudor-style English house was built by Ray Potter, president and treasurer of the Michigan Screw Company in the 1920s. Inside, the house has marble stairs and ornaments.

Also in the area is the Rumsey M. Haynes House at 1704 Jermone Street. Completed in 1930, the Tudor-style grand English house was built by architect Lee Black for the prominent Rumsey Haynes family.

A relatively modern house, the Talbert Abrams house, known as the “Wingspan”, is also worth a visit, Castanier said. Built in the 1950s, the cut stone and glass house at 1310 Cambridge Road was owned by Talbert Abrams, a pioneer of aerial photography.

“When he came to build his house, his wife decided to make it look like a shadow of an airplane on the ground,” Castanier said. “It’s a very cool house and just plain unusual.”

Preserving history

Unlike other cities, Lansing doesn’t have a single historic district with old houses, Castanier said. Instead, history rubs shoulders with modern office buildings, contemporary homes, and the Capitol complex.

The Grand Lansing Historical Society strives to preserve the city’s historic structures and help people get to know them. Next year, Castanier said the organization hopes to organize a guided tour of 100 sites of architectural significance in Lansing.

Castanier said it was important for people to understand what makes something historic.

“Everyone … will have a different idea of ​​what a truly historic site is,” Castanier said. “We are not the only answer … there are a lot of houses that seem quite simple in which very important people lived or had some importance … We try to tell these stories, not only of important people , but just from people who made a difference and who were important in their own way. ”

Contact reporter Elena Durnbaugh at (517) 231-9501 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at @ElenaDurnbaugh.

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