Monday, August 8, 2016

"Whatcha Got?" Evening of Antiques Fundraiser

HSGL and Wonder Women Estate Sales Present

"Whatcha Got?" Evening of Antiques Fundraiser
Thursday, August 25, 7:00-9:00 p.m.
108 E. Grand River - Lansing's Old Town
$20.00 per person

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and Wonder Women Estate Sales Gallery are hosting a summer fundraiser for HSGL at Wonder Women's new estate sale outlet at 108 E. Grand River in Lansing's Old Town on Thursday, August 26, 7:00-9:00 p.m. Admission is $20.00.

The event will feature a talk by noted author and nationally recognized antiques expert Harry L. Rinker.  Rinker has authored more than 20 books on antiques and collectibles. He also hosts a syndicated call-in radio show, "Whatcha Got?" that airs on Sundays from 8:00-10:00 a.m.

In addition to talking about what's hot in antiques, Rinker will interact with the audience in a live version of "Whatcha Got?" 

Attendees can each bring a small antique (it must be able to be held in your hand) and ask Rinker, "What is it?" and "What's it's value?"

In addition to the presentation, staff from Wonder Women and HSGL will be stationed around the store to tell specific stories about some selected unique antiques that are for sale during the fundraiser.

This is a special event co-hosted by Wonder Women. Specially selected antiques will be available for sale during the event. Rinker's books will also be available. For more information on Rinker visit

Light summer desserts and refreshments are included. 

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Moores River Drive Walking Tour

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a historical and architectural walking tour of Moores River Dr., 7 p.m., Thursday, August 4. The tour is free and meets near the sign marking the entrance to the Lansing Country Club. Please park on city streets or at Frances Park--not at the country club.

Valerie Marvin, who will act as tour guide, said the Moores River Dr. area is considered the first major suburban development in the Lansing area.

Marvin said, when James Henry Moores, a Lansing businessman and timber baron, built his summer home there in 1907, it was for recreation and relaxation.

"Moores lead many of the early efforts to improve and develop the area, including donating two parks: Moores Park, and Frances Park. He also wanted a golf course - and in 1908, The Lansing Golf Club - the parent organization of today's Lansing County Club - was formed as a result," Marvin said.

She said the design of the road itself represents James Moore’s desire to live the “English Dream.”

“Moores's development quickly caught the attention of many successful Lansing businessmen who would build their mansions on or near Moores River Drive. Many of the early homes were heavily influenced by English architecture. These American titans of lumber and industry built themselves homes that resembled English country manors - an interesting juxtaposition of old and new."

Moores River Drive was also considered a prime location for recreation. Many of the homes enjoyed easy access to the river. And in those days, even the act of driving on a beautiful, meandering, tree-lined street was considered a pleasure activity.

Homes that will be discussed on the tour are the Moore’s summer home at 2126 Moores River Dr.; a home built in 1916 for Harriett and Wallace Olds (R.E. Olds’ brother); a home built for Norman and Florence Cove, president of Cove Lumber and Finishing; a grand Arts and Crafts bungalow; and a split-level home built for Lynn and Phyllis Kestenholtz, the son of a barber, who rose to become president of Lanco Electric Supply Co.

Marvin called the neighborhood "a virtual textbook of every major American residential architectural style popular between 1900 and World War II."

"It's the greatest collection of early 20th century homes in the Lansing area."

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Oak Park Walking Tour on Saturday, July 23

Oak Park Historical Walking Tour
Saturday, July 23, 2016 - 10:00 a.m.
Tour meets at the parking lot across from the Neogen Administrative Offices - 620 Lesher 

The creators of Pokemon Go probably didn’t know that their app would lead gamers to the location of a former Lansing cemetery where it’s been rumored ghosts played in a wading pool.

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a walking tour of Oak Park and the adjoining eastside neighborhood 10 a.m. Saturday, July 23. 

The tour is free and will meet near the parking lot across from the Neogen Administrative offices at 620 Lesher Place. The 16 acre historical park is accessible off North Pennsylvania on Linden place or off Shiawassee on Durance St.

Oak Park, also known as East Side Park, was once a cemetery which was moved in the late 19th century to Mt. Hope Cemetery. In 1900 the site became Lansing’s second park and it featured a wading pool which attracted thousands on hot summer days.

In the center of the pool was a large cast iron fountain which served as a launching point for youngsters.

The park was immensely popular and hosted numerous youth pageants which would attract upwards of 10,000 viewers. Today, it used for soccer and softball and has a popular children’s playground.

The tour also will include the Oak Park School (now Neogen) and the 1929 Lansing Children’s Home adjacent to it. A short walk away on Pennsylvania Ave. are two Darius Moon homes which will be viewed and discussed.

Today, Oak Park is just as likely to attract Pokegon Go followers Bill Castanier, president of the Historical Society, said.

“The tour delves into a period of time when outdoor recreation was at its height and there were daily summer programs at the Park for neighborhood youth,” he said.

“The kind of fun children had in the early twentieth century is an amazing contrast to today’s search for Drowzee and Vulpix, two Pokemon Go characters which can be found in the Park, among others,” Castanier said.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

North Washington Walking Tour

North Washington Walking Tour
Thursday, July 14, 2016 - 7:00
Tour begins at 800 N. Washington Ave.

Most of us drive by the remarkable homes on North Washington wondering "who lived there" before the street became a direct path to Lansing's Old Town.

A historical and architectural walking tour of the 800, 900, 1000 blocks of North Washington will be held on Thursday, July 14 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Creyts' House 800 N. Washington.

The tour will include three homes designed or altered by the Lansing architect Darius Moon. Darius Moon's homes are located at 915, 1003, and 1025 N. Washington. Over time the homes were occupied by a doctor, a lumber baron and a former major of Lansing and congressman. The home at 1003 N. Washington also served as a Lavey Funeral Home and is on the National Register.

Other homes along the tour were once occupied by Lansing businessmen who ran insurance, real estate and dray firms. Although the homes started as single family dwellings over time they became rental units, offices, and sites for trade associations.

The homes include a variety of architectural styles including Colonial Revival, Modernism, and Greek Revival.

The north Lansing neighborhood was self-contained with churches, shopping, groceries and meat markets in nearby North Town, now called Old Town. The area was connected to Downtown Lansing and North Town by a streetcar and several North Town business owners lived along North Washington.

Bill Castanier, president of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, said North Washington represents both an important time in Lansing's growth and later its transformation in a modern city.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

HSGL Annual Meeting - A History of Fenner Nature Center

HSGL Annual Meeting - A History of Fenner Nature Center
Thursday, June 9, 2016 - 7:00 pm
Fenner Nature Center - 2020 E. Mount Hope Ave.

Summer is the perfect time to enjoy one of our city's greatest treasures - Fenner Nature Center. We'll join longtime member and former President of the Friends of Fenner Nature Center Ron Eggleston for a talk on the history of Fenner Nature Center for our annual meeting. Ron's presentation will take place in the Visitors Center. Interested members are encouraged to arrive early and  hike the trails before the meeting.

The property that is today Fenner Nature Center was once part of Springdale, a large farm owned by J.M. Turner. The farm passed down through the Turner family through multiple generations. By the time Scott Turner acquired the farm around 1900, it had dwindled to less than 150 acres. In 1952 Scott offered to sell the farm to the City of Lansing, stating that he wished it to remain in a somewhat primitive state. Lansing's City Council agreed to purchase the land for a park late that same year.

In 1958 Carl Fenner, a forester educated at MAC, became the new head of the Lansing Parks Department. Inspired by the Morton Arboretum in Illinois, Fenner set out to create an ambitious park where Lansing area residents could pursue "information, instruction and general knowledge concerning landscaping, gardening, forestry, botany, and related subjects." Arboretum Park, as it was then known, opened on August 1, 1959, to a crowd of 11,000 visitors. In 1965 the City of Lansing renamed the park The Carl G. Fenner Arboretum.

Today "the Arb", as it is still known to some Lansing residents, is jointly managed by the City of Lansing and the Friends of Fenner Nature Center. Every year Fenner hosts dozens of school tours, a series of summer camps, and the ever-popular Apple Butter Festival and Maple Syrup Festival. It continues to be an excellent resource for Lansing area residents.

As our bylaws require, we will be voting on the HSGL Board for the 2016-2017 year at the meeting. The proposed slate of candidates for the board includes:

Bill Castanier, President
Valerie Marvin, Vice President
Ron Emery, Secretary
Tim Kaltenbach, Treasurer
Jesse LaSorda, Trustee
Zig Olds, Trustee

Mary Kwas, Trustee

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The Most Memorable Moments of MSU Sports

Thursday, May 19, 2016 - 7:00 p.m.
Downtown CADL - 401 S. Capitol Ave.

Every Spartan fan has a favorite sports memory. Perhaps yours was when Magic Johnson led the Spartans to the 1977 NCAA Basketball Championship, the career of Jumping Johnny Green, or the 2015 Women's Cross Country NCAA Championship. Join longtime sports journalist Jack Ebling, current host of the weekday radio program "The Drive" as he discusses some of his favorite moments in MSU sports.

"The Drive" is live weekdays from 3:00-6:00 pm on The Team 92.1 WQTX.

Ebling has covered sports and more as a writer and broadcaster in mid-Michigan since 1978. A three-time Michigan Sportswriter of the Year, he was a 2006 inductee into the Greater Lansing Sports Hall of Fame.

He has authored several books on Spartan sports including Heart of a Spartan: The Story of Michigan State Football Renaissance, Spartan Champions JUD: A Magical Journey, Magic Moments, and Green Glory.

A Redford Township native and two-time graduate of MSU, Ebling has contributed more than 125 pieces for national publications, including The Sporting News, Basketball Times, Street & Smith's College Football, and College Basketball, and Sports Illustrated. He also has made frequent television guest appearances on the Big Ten Network.

He is currently the columnist for 247Sports Spartan Tailgate premium website. He also served as editor/columnist for Greater Lansing SPORT magazine from 2008-2012. The former English teacher and coach in Lapeer spent nearly a quart-century as a beat writer and columnist for the Lansing State Journal and won 21 major writing awards.

Guests are encouraged to bring their own lists of most memorable Spartan sports moments.

The event is free and open to the public.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Ink Trails II: Michigan's Famous and Forgotten Authors

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Library of Michigan are hosting Dave and Jack Dempsey, authors of "Ink Trails II: Michigan's Famous and Forgotten Authors" at 7:00 p.m., Thursday, April 28 at the Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing MI. The event is free and open to the public.

The book is the second in the Ink Trails series and explores the life and writings of 17 Michigan authors, both forgotten and luminaries. 

Ink Trails II looks at four authors with ties to Michigan State University and East Lansing who created literary treasures. Glendon Swarthout, author of "Where the Boys Are" and "Road to Cordura," the MAC graduate, muckraker, and Pulitzer Prize winner Ray Stannard Baker, Emma Gertrude Shore Thornton, a poet, MSU Professor and an advocate for peace, and Russel Kirk, author of the seminal book "The Conservative Mind" are all included in the new volume. Kirk is an MSC graduate and was owner of Red Cedar Bookshop.

Other authors include Detroiter Donald Goines, considered one of the first authors of the "pimp" novel, children book author Frances Margaret Fox, from Mackinac City, bodice ripper author and educator Mary Frances Doner, also of Mackinac City, and, of course, Ernest Hemingway.

Valerie Marvin, Society president, said "The book is a delightful look at both famous and overlooked authors. It is filled with tidbits about authors and poet and will lead to further adventures in reading."

David Dempsey, an environmental consultant, is the author of six books includung the 2009 Michigan Notable Book Winner "William G. Milliken: Michigan's Passionate Moderate." He co-edited the 2014 Michigan Notable Book "The Great Lake Sturgeon" and co-authored the award winning "Ink Trails I."

Jack Dempsey is an Ann Arbor attorney and author of several books on Michigan and the Civil War. He is also the chair of the Michigan History Foundation, vice president of the Michigan Historical Commission and was chair of the Michigan Sesquicentennial Commission. he has also won Michigan Notable Book Awards for "Ink Trails I" and "Michigan and the Civil War."

Monday, March 14, 2016

Wolf Mouth Book Event with author John Smolens

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and Everybody Reads Books is hosting a discussion and book signing with Upper Peninsula author John Smolens for his new book Wolf's Mouth at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, March 17 at Everybody Reads Books, 2019 Michigan Ave.

Smolens, who is the author of nine works of fiction, has written an epic historical novel revolving around the escape of a German Prisoner of War from one of Michigan's many POW camps during WWII.

The prisoner, with the help of a local woman, escapes to Detroit where many years later his past comes back with a vengeance as the former camp commandant tracks him with a sentence of death.

During World War II there were several prisoner of war camps in Michigan, including five in the Upper Peninsula and four in the Lower Peninsular, including nearby Owosso. There were multiple escapees, including one upon which Smolen has built his book.

Smolens will provide a history of the camps and the work that prisoners did there.

Smolens, who was for years a professor of English at Northern Michigan University, lives in Marquette, MI. His books include Cold, Quarantine, and The Schoolmaster's Daughter.

Smolens is Professor Emeritus and former director of the MFA program in creative writing at Northern Michigan University. During the past three decades he has taught at Michigan State University, Western Michigan University, as well as NMU, where he has been the recipient of the Distinguished Faculty Award.

In 2010 he received the Michigan Author of the Year Award from the Michigan Library Association.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Up Cloche: Fashion, Feminism, Modernity

Up Cloche: Fashion, Feminism, Modernity Exhibit Tour
Thursday, March 10, 2016  7:00 p.m.
MSU Museum, 409 W. Circle Drive
*Please note that this event coincides with MSU's spring break, so parking should be readily available.

HSGL will tour the MSU Museum's newest exhibit, Up Cloche: Fashion, Feminism, Modernity with curator Shirley Wajda. The exhibit explores how fashion reflects the politics, economics, and social changes of the Jazz Age. "Up Cloche: Fashion, Feminism, Modernity" features apparel and textile design collections with the iconic bell-shaped hat (the cloche) as the centerpiece.

The exhibit draws from the history and culture collections of the MSU Museum, including a striking array of 33 cloche hats, as well as other period fashion, and depictions to tell a story and reveal history.

"The exhibition highlights how identity and changes in society are reflected in changing styles of fashion," explains Shirley T. Wajda, MSU Museum curator of history, who organized the exhibition along with the MSU Museum's Lynne Swanson and Mary Worrall. "The post-World War I period was an exciting era of rapid social change, especially for women, who were finally able to break free to some extent from economic and social restraints, and literally break free of physical restraints of fashion." 

The exhibit will be on display through the end of August.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Library of Michigan History and Tour of Rare Book Room

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Library of Michigan are hosting a program at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, February 27 on the various services the Library offers and Library history followed by a chance to view some rare documents and books that relate to Lansing and Michigan history in the Library's rare book room at 2:30 p.m.

Valerie Marvin, President of the Society, said the Library of Michigan is a tremendous resource for researchers of all kinds from those wanting to know more about their family history to authors and for those doing business-related research.

"The Library services are available at no cost and the Library is open six days a week," she said. "It's a hidden gem where some of the greatest secrets of Michigan history lay in wait, just waiting to be discovered."

The program will start at 1:00 p.m. with an overview of the Library of Michigan's history by Librarian Bernadette Bartlett.

Bartlett said the Library is one of the oldest state government agencies in existence, predating statehood.

The State Library was established in 1828 as a territorial library. Today, it has the largest collection of Michigan newspapers on microfiche and the largest collection of fiction books by Michigan authors or about Michigan, Bartlett said.

Attendees will also learn about some of the library's often forgotten historical trials including the 1951 fire in the Lewis Cass building that threatened the existence of the State Library, destroying 20,000 books and damaging another 30,000 books.

Bartlett will also discuss the Library's groundbreaking travelling library program that began in the late 1890s. The traveling library program was created by Mrs. Mary Clare Spencer, who was named State Librarian in 1893. She soon committed the Library to making books available to all people of Michigan. Books "of the best literature" were sent across the state in oak cases. The books covered topics ranging from ethics and religion to biography and travel and were sent to Granges, women's clubs, and virtually any legitimate group.

Marvin said that early librarians like Mary Clare Spencer and Harriet Tenney were early career women. "Tenney knew her historical significance. In her first report to the Governor she wore that 'By the advice of the Chief Executive of the State, and with the unanimous consent and approbation of the Senate, on the 31st day of March, 1869, this Library was placed in charge of a WOMAN.'"

At 2:30 interested participants will tour the rare book room and see early photos and rare books including books made from birch bark, foredge painted books and miniature books. Also on display will be rare sheet music written by a Lansing resident and an employee of REO Motors also with other treasures.

In addition birders will be given the opportunity to see several forms of an Audubon etching along with the original lithographic stone. 

The event is free and open to the public. No reservations are necessary. More information on the Library's virtual collections along with curated content can be found at