Wednesday, May 31, 2017

June Events


Westside Neighborhood Walking Tour
Thursday, June 22, 2017 - 7:00 
Tour meets at Carey and Saginaw Streets

          The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is conducting a walking tour of the Westside neighborhood, one of Lansing's most fascinating and desirable neighborhoods at 7 p.m., June 22. The tour is free and will meet at West Saginaw and Carey Streets.

          The Westside neighborhood of approximately 2000 homes is bounded by Oakland on the north, Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. on the east, the city boundary on the west, and the Grand River to the south. At one time the near west side of Lansing was nearly impenetrable and covered by trees. To the far west was an area known as the Bogus Swamp and the Lansing Piggery was nearby. 

            The tour includes the architectural and historical background on 10 early Lansing English Tudors which were built by some of the city's major industrialists and businessmen. The homes are mostly nestled along N. Genesee so the tour covers a short distance.

            One of the tour guides, Fran Russell, lives on Genesee Street and will host tour participants for cookies and tea after the tour.


            Other tours this summer will be conducted at MSU (Beal Gardens and the old east campus) and in the Cherry Hill neighborhood just off Grand Ave and I-496.


Fighting the Death Penalty
Thursday, June 29, 2017 – 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo

      The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Michigan Political History Society is hosting nationally-recognized expert on the death penalty Eugene Gilbert Wanger in a conversation with Lansing attorney James Neal of the Loomis Law Firm, Thursday, June 29, 7 p.m. at the Library of Michigan. The event is free.

      Wanger recently published the book “Fighting the Death Penalty: A Fifty Year Journey of Argument and Persuasion.” through Michigan State University Press. Books will be for sale at the event.

      Michigan is the only state in the country that has a death penalty prohibition in its constitution—Eugene G. Wanger’s compelling arguments against capital punishment is a large reason it is there. The 40 pieces in this volume are writings created or used by the author, who penned the prohibition clause, during his fifty years as a death penalty abolitionist.

      His extraordinary background in forensics, law, and political activity as constitutional convention delegate and co-chairman of the Michigan Committee Against Capital Punishment has produced a remarkable collection. It is not only a fifty-year history of the anti–death penalty argument in America; it also is a detailed and challenging example of how the argument against capital punishment may be successfully made.

      The Eugene G. Wanger and Marilyn M. Wanger Death Penalty Collection resides at the University of  Albany M.E. Grenander Archives in New York and contains a wide range of materials on the death penalty documenting its history, efforts to abolish or reinstate the practice, its psychological impact, compatibility on religious, moral or ethical grounds, and its operation.

      After graduating from Amherst College and The University of Michigan Law School, Eugene G. Wanger returned home to Lansing, Michigan to practice law. In 1961-1962 fellow voters from Lansing elected him the youngest delegate from his political party to Michigan’s Constitutional Convention where, among other provisions, he authored the section of the state constitution which bans capital punishment.  Wanger later served as Lansing's City Attorney and chairman of Ingham County's Board of Commissioners.
      Beginning in 1972, Wanger co-chaired the Michigan Committee Against Capital Punishment, co-founded the Michigan Committee Against the Death Penalty, and been active in numerous historical organizations including the Historical Society of Greater Lansing. In 2005, he received the Champion of Justice Award from the State Bar of Michigan for superior professional accomplishments benefiting the state and nation, including his work on capital punishment.
      He is a life-time member of the Michigan Political History Society.


Monday, May 8, 2017

May Events

Rock, Rebellion And Brownies
Tuesday, May 16 – 6:30 p.m.
Delta Township Library, 5130 Davenport Dr., Delta Township

            Join the Historical Society of Greater Lansing for a look back at the tumultuous Sixties through the eyes and ears of two MSU graduates: Bob Pearson and Bill Castanier. There’s the old saw: “If you remember the ‘60s, you really weren’t there.” This presentation, taken from the pages of the State News and the airwaves of WILS Radio, will help you fill in the blanks. Castanier was a State News staffer in the 1960s and Pearson worked as a DJ at Lansing’s leading rock station WILS.
Bath School Bombing Remembered
Thursday, May 18, 2017 – 4:00 - 8:00 p.m.
Bath Middle School, 13675 Webster Rd., Bath Township

            Join HSGL and The Bath School Museum Committee for an evening of activities remembering the tragic Bath School Bombing on May 18, 1927, when 38 children and 6 adults were killed when more than 1,000 pounds of explosives were planted and set off by a disgruntled board member. To this day the tragedy remains the largest act of school violence in the U.S.

            The evening includes a tour of the Bath School Museum from 4:00-6:00 p.m., a viewing of the 2011 documentary featuring survivors and their families from 6:00-7:00 p.m., and a panel discussion with three second-generation survivors: Michelle Allen, Sue Hagerman, and Jim Church at 7:15 p.m. The panel will be moderated by retired archivist and local historian Geneva Wiskemann.

1937: An Exhibit Opening
Friday, June 2 – 5:00 - 7:00 p.m.
Lansing City Hall, 124 W. Michigan Ave.

             HSGL will open its new exhibit “1937–The Year” on Friday evening, June 2, in the lobby of Lansing City Hall. The exhibit looks at many different aspects of life in the Lansing area. We'll be talking about everything from Spam (which was introduced in 1937) to major national and international events swirling around the world, including the Spanish Civil War, the Depression, and the emergence of what would become WWII. The exhibit will cover many different parts of culture, from movies and books to the WPA, local lawmakers, fashion, architecture, and flight. 

Lansing Labor Holiday Historical Marker Dedication and Reenactment
Saturday, June 3 – 1:00 p.m.
Lansing City Hall Plaza, 124 W. Michigan Ave.

            Visitors to downtown Lansing will run into a purposeful traffic jam created to commemorate a monumental labor rally held in 1937 and which became known as the “Lansing Labor Holiday” on Saturday, June 3. The holiday occurred on June 7, 1937, only a few months after the settlement of the Flint and REO sit-down strikes. For one day Lansing became the center of union activity when a general strike was called in response to the arrest of several local union leaders. Thousands poured into downtown, abandoning their cars and shutting down the city temporarily. 

            On June 3 the Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Lansing Labor Holiday Commemoration Committee, a group representing area unions, and MSU and LCC historians, will gather to recreate that famous traffic jam and dedicate a new historical marker in downtown Lansing. The events are being held in conjunction with the annual Be A Tourist In Your Own Town celebration in the community.



Tuesday, April 18, 2017

April & Early May Events

Labor Rises Up in Lansing: The 1937 Labor Holiday and Its Wider State and National Context*
Thursday, April 20, 2017 - 7:00 p.m.
Downtown CADL - 401 S. Capitol Ave.

Join Professors Lisa Fine and John Beck as they discuss the 1937 Lansing Labor Holiday, a city-wide general strike on June 7, 1937. Only a few days earlier, on May 21, workers at the Capital City Wrecking Company struck. On June 1 an Ingham County judge granted an injunction, which strikers largely ignored. In response the local Ingham County Sheriff arrested the wife of strike leader Lester Washburn in the middle of the night. Her husband, who was out of town, returned later in the morning to find his children at home alone and his wife in jail. In response to this event, local union leaders called for a general strike, which ended up involving several thousand people, including so-called “flying squadrons,” union picketers who traveled from strike to strike. The city was virtually shut down as cars were parked across major streets and stores closed.

            Beck and Fine will discuss the Labor Holiday, and look at its broader state and national context and significance. This program is part of a series of events highlighting the year 1937.

*This program was originally advertised as REO Joe in the March newsletter.

Building a Better World - the Life and Career of Governor Frank Murphy
Saturday, April 22, 2017 - 1:30 p.m.
Lake Michigan Room - Library of Michigan- 702 W. Kalamazoo St.
(Note location change)

            Capitol Historian and HSGL Vice President Valerie Marvin will give a talk on Governor Frank Murphy, who held the chief executive’s office from 1937-1938, in conjunction with HSGL’s series on the historic events of 1937.

            Murphy today remains one of Michigan’s most accomplished sons. Born in the small Thumb town of Harbor Beach in 1890, he attended school at the University of Michigan and served in World War I as a young man. After practicing law privately in Detroit for several years, Murphy became the Chief Assistant Attorney General for the eastern District of Michigan and then served on the Recorder’s Court from 1923-1930. It was here that he gained fame as the judge for the Sweet Trial, a nationally watched case involving an African-American family who moved into a white neighborhood and was subsequently attacked. He served as Mayor of Detroit 1930-1933, when he was appointed the Governor General of the Philippines by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

            Murphy returned to Michigan in 1936 to defeat Frank Fitzgerald for the governor’s office. As chief executive he famously negotiated the Flint Sit-down Strike. Upon losing his reelection bid to Fitzgerald in 1938 he turned his attention to Washington, where he served as U.S. Attorney General for one year. On January 18, 1940, FDR nominated Murphy to the U.S. Supreme Court, where he served until his death in 1949.


The Michigan State Police: 100 Years of History 1917-2018
Thursday, May 4, 2017 - 7:00 p.m.
Classroom C-1, MSP Training Academy
7426 N. Canal, Lansing


            The Michigan State Police (MSP) is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. MSP historian Phil Schertzing will describe the origins and evolution of the department over the past century. The presentation will include a number of significant connections to major cases, locations, and events in the Greater Lansing area. 

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

March Events


Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright To Googie
By Professor Susan J. Bandes

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Capital Area District Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave.

Learn more about Lansing’s modernist architects and some of their notable architectural creations from Susan J. Bandes, author of “Mid-Michigan Modern: Lansing Architects and Their Clients” as she does a talk and power point presentation on Mid-Michigan Modern: Lansing Architects and Their Clients,  7 p.m., Thursday, March 23 at the newly renovated downtown branch of the Capitol Area District Library.

The Library is one of Lansing’s most revered modernist structures and is the work of Lansing architect Kenneth Black. Bandes’ book will be available for purchase.

Bandes, who teaches art history and is director of museum studies at MSU, also was one of the curators on the exhibit "Minds of Modernism" which is on display at the Michigan Historical Museum.

In her new book, Bandes has collected documents, photographs, and oral histories featuring more than 130 modernist structures that were built in the East Lansing, Okemos, and Lansing aea between 1940 and 1970.

“Included in her book are homes, offices and sacred places you drive by every day, but really don’t know the story behind the building,” said Bill Castanier, president of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing.

For example, the Michigan Medical Society building on West Saginaw in East Lansing is a classic example of modernism and was designed by the architect of the Twin Towers, Minoru Yamasaki. Bandes also delves into unique modernism structures like East Lansing’s Dawn Donuts.

One classic example of a home designed in the modernist vein is the soaring “airplane house” on Moores River Dr. which was designed for the aviator-entrepreneur Talbert Abrams and built to look like the shadow a plane casts while in the air.

Longtime Lansing residents also will remember the Liebermann’s gift shop in downtown Lansing. The building one Washington Square is the only commercial structure designed by George Nelson who was Director of Design for Herman Miller.

 The Minds of Modernism exhibit includes architectural drawings, building models, and representative commercial products from noted designers such as Eero Saarinen and that reflect the Modernist era.



Monday, November 28, 2016

A Tour Through Mid-Michigan Modern

A TOUR THROUGH MID-MICHIGAN MODERN

Sunday, December 4, 2016 – 1:30 p.m.
Michigan Historical Museum, 702 W. Kalamazoo

            Learn first-hand about modernist architecture from Susan Bandes, author of Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie, as she leads a tour of the new exhibit Minds of Modernism which is on display at the Michigan History Museum. Bandes, who teaches art history and is director of museum studies at MSU, acted as advisor/curator for the exhibit and will conduct the free curated tour. Parking is free and Bandes’s book will be available for purchase.

            In her new book, Bandes has collected photographs, art, and oral histories featuring more than 130 modernist structures that were built in East Lansing and Lansing between 1940 and 1970. Included are homes, offices, and sacred places you drive by every day, but really don’t know the story behind the building. For example, the Michigan Medical Society building on Saginaw in East Lansing is a classic example of modernism and was designed by the architect of the Twin Towers, Minoru Yamasaki. She also delves into the architects who designed the modernist buildings and looks at what might be considered mundane structures like East Lansing’s Dawn Donuts. One classic example of a home designed in the modernist vein is the soaring “airplane house” on Moores River Dr., which was designed for the aviator-entrepreneur Talbert Abrams and built to look like the shadow a plane casts while in the air.


            The Minds of Modernism exhibit includes architectural drawings, building models, and representative commercial products from noted designers, such as Eero Saarinen, that reflect the Modernist era. The exhibit was curated by the Archives of Michigan, the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, the Michigan Historical Center, and Susan Bandes.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Rock, Rebellion and Brownies - the 1960s at MSU

Thursday, November 17 – 6:30 p.m.
East Lansing Public Library – 950 Abbot Rd.

To be sung to the tune “We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel:

Sigma Chi, SDS, segregation, what a mess!
John Hannah, Madam Nhu, Mary Poppins, She Loves You
Stevie Wonder, Grace Slick, McNamara, Tricky Dick   
Roger Daltry and The Who, Lennon and McCartney too

Draft dodgers, “RotCee,” Vietnam, and LSD
Goldfinger, James Bond, Bob Dylan, Blonde on Blonde
Gary Powers, U-2, Sergeant Pepper, Kind Of Blue
Kent State, Green Berets, Ole Miss, and JFK

Rowan, Martin, Smothers Brothers, Frank Zappa and The Mothers
Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, The Graduate, homecoming day
Woodstock, Vonnegut, downtown Lansing, “cruise the gut”
Draft status 1-A, ATL, no PDA

Bubba Smith, Notre Dame, Tiger’s pennant, Rose Bowl game
Smoking weed, women’s rights, everything will be all right
Coral Gables, Union grill, also Frandor open still
Walter Adams, Mr. Kite, Beaumont Tower, Green & White!
               
(With apologies to Billy Joel and thanks to Bob Mainfort, Mary Kwas and Bill Castanier.)

                Join the Historical Society of Greater Lansing for a look back at the tumultuous Sixties through the eyes and ears of two MSU graduates: Bob Pearson and Bill Castanier. There’s the old saw: “If you remember the ‘60s, you really weren’t there.” This presentation, taken from the pages of the State News and the airwaves of WILS Radio, will help you fill in the blanks. Castanier was a State News staffer in the 1960s and Pearson worked as a DJ at Lansing’s leading rock station WILS.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

October 2016 Programs

Trains, Planes & Automobiles

            Transportation history will be the focus of three co-sponsored HSGL programs during October. Come join us for a look at Lansing’s history of “Trains, Planes & Automobiles.”


Babe Ruth: Airport Kid
Wednesday, October 26 – 6:30 p.m.
East Lansing Public Library – 950 Abbot Rd.

            Lansing’s own aviatrix, Marion “Babe” Ruth, will be the subject of a program by Lansing historian Craig Whitford. Ruth lived next to the Lansing airport and became fascinated with flying, taking her first flight in 1931 at age 13. She soloed in 1936, receiving her pilot’s license the following year and her commercial license four years later. During WWII Ruth served as an flight instructor using a flight simulator. She has been inducted into both the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame and Women’s Hall of Fame. Presenter Craig Whitford has written Airport Kid: Learning to Fly, which details Ruth’s early life in aviation. The event is free.


And Back to the 19th Century

Civil War in Michigan
Thursday, October 27 – 7:00 p.m.
CADL-Downtown Branch – 401 S. Capitol Ave.


            Staff from the MSU Archives will discuss their Civil War online website and some of the more interesting documents in the collections. The MSU Civil War website was created during the Sesquicentennial of the Civil War and features diaries, letters, and photographs from this period of American history. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Fifty Years of Journalism with Berl Schwarz, Lansing City Pulse

50 Years of Journalism with Berl Schwartz
Thursday, September 29, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Capital Area District Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave.

 Berl Schwartz, publisher of the Lansing City Pulse, will discuss his 50-year career in journalism with HSGL. In his newspaper career, Schwartz has interviewed hundreds of newsmakers and entertainers, including the late Muhammed Ali and John Lennon. He will weave into his stories how journalism has changed dramatically over 50 years. This fall, the Lansing City Pulse will also reach a milestone celebrating 15 years of publishing.

Schwartz started as a copy boy at the The Blade (Toledo); was the executive editor of the York (Pa.) Daily Record; managing editor of The Knoxville (Tenn.); and a Washington correspondent for several other publications and news services. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.

Read more about Schwarz's career in this week's Lansing City Pulse.



Friday, September 16, 2016

Riverside Cemetery Tour

Riverside Cemetery Tour
Sunday, September 17, 2016 - 2:00 p.m.
Riverside Cemetery, 2389 Hamilton Rd., Okemos

Dead men (and women) do talk.

The names of those emblazoned on tombstones at Riverside Cemetery in Meridian Township are a roll call of the area’s pioneer settlers.

Williams, Burcham, Marsh, Gretttenberger, Proctor, Bray, Hamilton and Gibson are among the families who are buried in this forlorn, but historically important cemetery.

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a walking tour of Riverside Cemetery 2 p.m., Sunday September 18. The Cemetery is located on Hamilton Rd. just off the south side of Grand River, over the viaduct and right before Baryames Tuxedo Shop and Playmakers. Park at Playmakers and bring/wear bug spray. 

Tucked between Hamilton Rd. and the Grand River, the Cemetery is mostly forgotten since very few burials have occurred since 1935. The earliest grave in the Cemetery is 1842. Many of the gravestones have toppled or are unreadable, but those left leave a history of hard work and dedication to building a successful community.


The Riverside Cemetery, once called Riverbend, is located on a 2.8 acre site surrounded by quaint fieldstone and iron fences. A number of the graves are marked with white bronze (zinc) markers which were ordered from a catalog.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September Events

An Evening with Scrabble World Champion Peter Morris
Thursday, September 8, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Lansing City Hall, 124 W. Michigan Ave.

Twenty-five years ago this fall, young gamer and MSU graduate student Peter Morris was on the lookout for just the right word on his way to win the first ever World Scrabble Championship in London.

Morris, who is considered one of the best writers on the history of baseball, will kick off the HSGL's fall lecture and event series on September 8 in the lobby of Lansing City Hall when he talks about how he won the Championship. Artifacts from that championship match, including the world championship trophy, are among the items on display in the HSGL exhibit "Lansing Has Fun" which looks at what Lansing residents did to have fun over the last 100 years.

Riverside Cemetery Tour
Sunday, September 18, 2016 - 2:00 p.m.
Riverside Cemetery, 2389 Hamilton Road, Okemos
*Plan to park in the nearby Baryames Tuxedo in Okemos

HSGL's annual cemetery tour will be at Riverside Cemetery in Okemos.
Riverside Cemetery can be called a “forgotten “cemetery as it is tucked between Grand River Ave and the Red Cedar River. It sits on 2.9 acres and approximately 411 burials marked by headstones along with about 100 graves that are not marked are present representing some of Okemos’ early families including Hamilton, Grettenberger, and Bennett.

There are six Civil War veterans, one Spanish American War veteran and two WWI veterans buried in the cemetery. The earliest burial is 1842 with very few burials after 1935. The cemetery has a quaint field stone wall and its original iron fences.

Riverside Cemetery is located just over the viaduct on Grand River Ave (going east) and is located on the south side. Parking is available at Baryames Tuxedo Shop or Playmakers.


50 Years of Journalism with Berl Schwarz
Thursday, September 30, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Capital Area District Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave.

Another man who has a way with words, Berl Schwartz, publisher of the Lansing City Pulse, will discuss his 50-year career in journalism. In his newspaper career, Schwartz has interviewed hundreds of newsmakers and entertainers, including the late Muhammed Ali and John Lennon. He will weave into his stories how journalism has changed dramatically over 50 years. This fall, the Lansing City Pulse will also reach a milestone celebrating 15 years of publishing.

Schwartz started as a copy boy at the The Blade (Toledo); was the executive editor of the York (Pa.) Daily Record; managing editor of The Knoxville (Tenn.); and a Washington correspondent for several other publications and news services. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania.