Tuesday, September 15, 2015

From Sepia to Selfies - 150 Years of Lansing Photographic History Exhibit

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing
150 Years of Lansing Photographic History

Library of Michigan
4th Floor
Sponsored by the Library of Michigan, Central Michigan University Clarke Library, and Studio de Danse, Lansing

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing, the Library of Michigan and Central Michigan University’s Clarke Historical Library are presenting “From Sepia to Selfies: 150 years of Lansing photographic history,” an exhibit that explores the roots and evolution of photography in Lansing.

Included in the exhibit are more than 300 rare, iconic and vernacular photographs representing virtually every aspect of Lansing from selfies to early cabinet photographers. The exhibit is free and on display until December 31. It also includes examples of rare, unusual and everyday cameras and photographic equipment.

Valerie Marvin president of the Society said more than 60 photographers, collectors and individuals loaned photographs and equipment for the exhibit. The Clarke Library provided interpretive panels on the history of photographic processes which provide an important timeline for the advancement of photography.

One highlight includes more than 60 cabinet cards from 60 individual Lansing photographers representing the full spectrum of portrait photography from the 1850s to 1930s in Lansing. The collection is from Jacob McCormick of Holt who has set his goal to collect a photograph from all of the 130 Lansing photographic companies who plied their trade in Lansing from the 1850s to 1930s.

Another segment of the exhibit focuses on Demonstrations and Celebrations at the State Capitol which was assembled by photojournalist David Olds and features both black and white and color photography of demonstrations as varied as bikers rallying against the helmet law to the massive right to work demonstrations.

Marvin said what is unusual about this exhibit is it blends both professional and vernacular (amateur) photography in showing events across Lansing’s history. She said an example is the photographs of the 1951 Cass fire which includes numerous images shot by bystanders and a professional photographer.

One particular Lansing amateur photographer Clara Heldemeyer was discovered through “lost” photo albums that turned up at an out-of-city estate sale. The three albums show some of Heldemeyer’s rare ability which led her to become a celebrated salon photographer and to exhibit at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York. A number of her salon photographs including a portrait of Anais Nin are in the exhibit an on loan from.

The exhibit also has several salon photographs of Gerald Granger who competed and won recognition world-wide for his photography. At one time in the 1940s Granger was recognized in the top five of salon photographers, world-wide. Granger is also considered the first full time Lansing State Journal photographer.

Marvin said any exhibit on Lansing photography would not be complete without showcasing photography of Leavenworth Photographics which documented the 20th century history of Lansing as the premier commercial photographer. “

Their slogan “Anything Photographed. Anytime. Anywhere” does not give their talents and breadth of work justice. The firm, in its ninth decade, continues under the third owner Roger Boettcher who loaned several rare images and a panoramic camera belonging to the R.C. Leavenworth.

Other topics covered in the exhibit include Lansing disasters; daredevils; planes boats and trains; parades; aerial photography by Abrams; I-496 construction and deconstruction; how we see photography and how photography was used to record important events and life passages.

“Photography is one of the ways we have of recording and analyzing our history and this exhibit has opened the door to many more similar exhibits for the Society,” Marvin said.

“Visitors to the exhibit will walk away with their own favorite image and the photos will help us recall both good times and difficult times,” she said.

Two special events are planned focusing on news photography and photography of the American Indian.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Glendale Cemetery Tour on Sunday, September 13

This Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a walking tour of Glendale Cemetery at 2 pm on Sunday, September 13 at 2500 Mt.Hope Rd., Okemos. The tour is free. The cemetery is located west of Okemos Rd.

Jane M. Rose, author of the recently published "Meridian Township" part of the "Images of America" series, will give a brief history of the cemetery and highlight a few women pioneers. The cemetery which currently has 9,000 gravesites was established in 1887 on land provided by R.P. Soule and J. Blakley.

Valerie Marvin, President of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, said the tour will highlight the first African American to be hired by the City of Lansing, a member of the Polar Bear Expedition of World War I, the Commissioner of the State Police in the 1950s, and three victims of the Bath School Disaster of May 1927 where 44 individuals were killed and 58 injured in bombings by a disgruntled school employee. The tour highlights include:

Charles Henry Doane, who was the first African Americans to be hired by the City of Lansing. His son Charles H. Doane Jr. Married Nettie Thompson. Nettie's brother was William Thompson who was the first person of color to graduate from M.A.C. in 1904. Nettie's other brother Paris Thompson was one of only 10 African Americans to serve in WW1 from Ingham County.

James Mckane was a World War I Veteran, serving in the Polar Bear regiment which was used to guard the Trans-Siberian Railroad during the Russian Revolution. His father James Sr. came to the U.S. in 1866 from Northern Ireland and the Mckane family settled in Meridian Township sometime before 1900. In 1920, James Jr. worked as an inspector in an auto body shop in Ingham County. In 1930, James was living in Detroit and working as a contractor. By 1940, he moved back to Meridian Twp. and was self-employed in sales.

Michigan State Police Commissioner Joseph A. Childs, who was Commissioner from 1952-1965. He was born in 1909 and died in 1976. More than 10 Michigan State Police veterans are buried in Glendale. His predecessor Donald Leonard had just submitted his paperwork for retirement when the Jackson prison riots broke out in the spring of 1952. The papers were withdrawn quickly and Leonard commanded the efforts to bring the prison back under control, an effort that involved over 300 troops coming in from all across the state.

Childs also led disaster relief efforts in 1953 after a deadly tornado struck Flint and several communities eastward. One hundred and fifteen died and nearly 900 were injured. Troopers relocated to Flint for several weeks to help with disaster relief, receiving commendation from across the country for their efforts. To that end, he was part of the organization of the Michigan Civil Defense Emergency Team under Gov. Williams in 1954 for the purpose of putting in place a statewide team to handle disaster relief and recovery efforts.

He also introduced the blue police car, the diving team, and the canine patrol that we still know today, and saw the force grow to exceed 1000 for the first time.

Valerie Marvin said "Childs and others buried in Glendale are symbols of public service and a reminder that East Lansing, as the longtime headquarters of MSP, has been home to many who have served the state through MSP. Childs relatively simple gravestone gives little indication of the important work that he did to keep Michiganders safe and improve the quality of life in our state."

Monday, August 31, 2015

Eaton County Courthouse Tour

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and Courthouse Square are hosting a tour of the historic Eaton County Courthouse and Museum, Thursday, September 3. The tour is free and participants should meet at the front of the Courthouse at 100 West Lawrence, Charlotte. A tour of the grounds and exterior architecture begins at 6 p.m. and the building tour at 7 p.m.

The Courthouse was constructed from 1882-1885 and was used for county business until 1976 when it was replaced by a new courthouse and county facilities.

Valerie Marvin, President of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, said the Courthouse tour will cover everything from the architectural style to topics such as construction materials, how rooms were arranged and the symbolism represented in the structure.

Following the Civil War many counties in the North chose to celebrate the victory by erecting new and impressive public buildings. County courthouses were not only practical buildings housing important government business, but also were designed to elicit respect for the law and government, Marvin said.

In addition to touring the various rooms which served the court and government offices, the tour will explore how the architect David W. Gibbs of Toledo, Ohio, designed the brick and iron structure for efficiency in heating and cooling. Gibbs most notable work was the Wyoming State House, designed not long after the courthouse opened.

Marvin said the building was almost destroyed by fire in 1894 when fire caused the dome to crash to the floor, but the three side structures were unscathed and the Courthouse was restored.

In addition to public space the Courthouse included nine private offices for judges and public officials such as the register of deeds, county clerk and supervisor. It also contained water closets which Marvin said likely were a great surprise especially to rural residents at that time.

The Courthouse also included wood floors, doors and trim work constructed of pine, walnut and butternut harvested from nearby forests.

In 1976 the Courthouse was repurposed as a museum and a venue for weddings, parties and banquets.
Marvin said, Public structures were built in this time period with intent of celebrating civilizations accomplishments.

The residents of Eaton County are to be commended for saving this glorious structure, she said.

The HSGL will also host a tour of the Ingham County Courthouse on Thursday, September 17.

Friday, August 14, 2015

A Walking Tour of Old West Circle on MSU's Campus

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing will join with Stephen Terry, author of the postcard book “Michigan Agricultural College: 1900-1925,” for their first-ever walking tour of MSU's West Circle at 10 a.m., Saturday, August 22. The tour is free and begins at Beaumont Tower. Attendees should park in the ramp adjacent to the Olin Health Center just off Grand River.

Terry said the area to be covered in the walk was called the College’s “sacred space” where most of the earliest buildings and activities took place.

The tour will cover both standing buildings and those that were lost to demolition or fire such as Engineering and Wells Hall which both burned.

Terry said it is important to discuss MSU’s earliest days from the perspective of its architecture.
“There are only 12 buildings on the current MSU campus that were erected before 1925,” he said.
Included in that are the original Library-Museum building which anchors part of the east end of the Circle.

The building, which was built in 1881 and was repurposed over time for uses such as the Administration Building, was a place where students in the 1960s could go for a $5 loan to tide them over. It is now called Linton Hall.

Other sites on the walk include the newer Museum building, Agricultural Hall and numerous building and sites on what once was called Laboratory Row including Eustace-Cole Hall, Old Botany, Cook Hall, Chittenden Hall, Marshall Hall and Morrill Hall which was torn down in 2013.

Terry said the construction of Morrill Hall in 1899-1900 was really the marker for the establishment of the first Women’s College on campus even though there was a women’s curriculum as early as 1896 and women first attended the College in 1870. He said it served both as living quarters and classroom space for teaching domestic arts among other classes.

One example of the varied history of the buildings on the Circle is Chittenden Hall which was originally built in 1901 at the cost of $15,000 to house the dairy program and in 1913 was renamed the Forestry Building. It was recently renovated and now houses the University’s graduate programs.

Terry also will discuss the area where Gilchrist Hall is now located which was once home to Faculty Row, a collection of faculty residences. Only Cowles House is now remaining and that only has fragments from the original structure.

The “sacred ground” was also the site of many memorable gatherings and student events including the 1907 visit of President Theodore Roosevelt.

The author also will point out numerous quirky items along the tour including a horse watering trough which was a Senior Class Gift of the class of 1907 and was near where President Roosevelt delivered a speech titled “A Man Who Works With His Hands.”

Valerie Marvin said that the walking tour is one way to learn about the earliest architecture on campus but also about what went on inside and around the beautiful buildings.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Walking Tour Highlight West Side Neighborhood's African American History

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing will conduct a walking tour of Lansing’s near west side 7 p.m., Thursday, August 6 focusing on sites reflecting African American life before desegregation.

Sites include the Lincoln School, the Dungey Subdivision, the Moon House, Union Missionary Baptist Church and I-496 and the neighborhoods representing the color-line.  

The Dungey Subdivision encompasses Huron, Kalamazoo, Hillsdale and Martin Luther King and is named after Andrew and Ray Dungey who developed the first subdivision by African Americans in 1915.

The Lincoln Elementary/Community Center was located at 1023 William Street (corner of William and Logan). The school was torn down in the mid-1960s. Students at the school were almost entirely African American.

The Darius Moon House at 213 Huron Street is being recognized because Moon employed African American tradespeople including William Allen, a mason, and William Prute, a carpenter.

The Union Missionary Church, 500 S. Martin Luther King, which dates to 1909 is one of several churches in the area which were predominately African American. The site on Martin Luther King is the church’s third building with the first two located at 1024 W. Hillsdale.

Also the significance of Lansing’s “Color-Line” will be explored. The line which stretched from Butler Street west to Westmoreland St.; south to the Grand River and north to W. St Joseph by construct became the neighborhood where African Americans were expected to live prior to desegregation in the 1960s.

The tour also will explore the impact that the construction of I-496 in the mid-1960s had on the predominately African American neighborhood including the displacement of hundreds of African American families.  Nearly 900 homes and commercial buildings were torn down for construction of I-496 which bisected Lansing’s African American neighborhoods.

"As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Right movements, and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, it's important for our community to reflect on the historical challenges faced by African-Americans in our own city. It's also a chance to remember a very vibrant community, where people lived, learned, laughed, and worshiped,” said Valerie Marvin, president of the Historical Society.

The tour will meet at the Union Missionary Baptist Church parking lot at 500 S. MLK. The parking lot is to the south of the church. The tour is free.  

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Vintage View of M-22 Book Event at East Lansing Public Library This Thursday!

After checking out the new book on touring Michigan’s scenic M-22 you’ll understand why you see all those M-22 stickers on cars.

Award winning authors M. Christine Byron and Thomas R. Wilson spent endless hours driving Michigan’s most scenic highway for their new coffee table book “Vintage Views Along Scenic M-22 Including Sleeping Bear Dunes.”

Byron and Wilson will bring their stories and new book to the East Lansing Public Library, 950 Abbot Rd, East Lansing, at 7 p.m., Thursday July 30 for a visual presentation of the scenic drive.
The book, through clever use of vintage postcards, advertising ephemera and photographs, illustrates a time when the highway first beckoned travelers to the scenic drive outlining Leelanau Peninsula.

The 248 page book will take you on a trip back in time when things were slower and less commercial, said Valerie Marvin, president of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing which is co-sponsoring the event along with the Friends of the East Lansing Public Library.

The event is free event and books will be available for purchase.

“The couple’s love of Michigan and its history is shown on every page of this amazing book,” Marvin said. The authors have used their vast postcard collection and travel ephemera as the inspiration for five books which include visual tours of the Sleeping Bear Dunes, Charlevoix and Petoskey, Leelanau County, M-22, the Straits of Mackinac and the West Michigan Pike.

Byron was previously the local history librarian for the Grand Rapids Public Library and Wilson is retired from Sears Roebuck and Company and is on the Grand Rapids Historical Commission. Their books have won three Michigan Notable Book Awards and the book on the West Michigan Pike won the 2012 State History Award.

The event is co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Friends of the East Lansing Public Library.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Downtown Lansing Restaurant Tour

Downtown Lansing's Favorite Old Restaurants Walking Tour

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a downtown Lansing walking tour featuring the “lost restaurants of Lansing” 10 a.m., Saturday July 25. The tour which will leave from Lansing City Hall is free and is being held in conjunction with the Capital Car Auto Show and the Taste of Downtown sponsored by Downtown Lansing Inc..

Walkers will explore locations of more than 12 area restaurants and discuss the history of those restaurants including the Plaza Room and Fielder’s Room in the Olds Hotel, Jim’s Tiffany Lounge, Dines, the Knight Cap, Brauer’s 1861 House, Tarpoff’s, Foo Ying, Estelle’s, Kewpees, Home Dairy and the Parthenon.

Valerie Marvin, president of the Historical Association of Greater Lansing said the tour will explore both the fine dining experiences and the more casual eateries that once graced downtown Lansing.
“These were the type of dining establishments where people celebrated anniversaries, birthdays and became engaged. Younger residents remember romantic pre-prom and hop dinners,” Marvin said.

She also said several of the restaurants are where legislators went to work out compromises and lobbyists entertained. Numerous clubs also held their monthly meetings in several of the restaurants.
Only two of the restaurants, the Knight Cap and Kewpies, are still serving diners today.

The tour will be conducted by Gary Koelsch, and is co-sponsored by the Historical Society of Greater Lansing and Downtown Lansing Inc.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Historic Houses in Downtown Lansing Walking Tour This Thursday, July 9

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing’s 3rd historical summer walking tour is set for 7 p.m., Thursday July 9 in a downtown neighborhood adjacent to the State Capitol and includes five homes on Capitol Ave, Genesee St. and Seymour St. The tour meets at the historic Carnegie Library at 210 W. Shiawassee Street.

Homes which will be discussed on the tour include the former homes of a Michigan Supreme Court Justice, a former president of MAC, an auto pioneer, and an early Lansing industrialist along with one of downtown’s first apartment buildings.

President of the Historical Society Valerie Marvin said the walking tour will cover both the historical and architectural aspects of the homes. Several of the homes have been converted to offices.

“Many of us drive by these homes every day not knowing of their importance in Lansing history,” Marvin said. "Yet they serve to remind us that downtown Lansing continues to involve, while remaining both a desirable place to live and work."

She said one example is the current Maurer-Foster building at 615 N. Capitol Ave which was originally the home of William Newbrough who was one of  the founders of the New Way Motor Co. The home was later sold to Auto Owners which used it for its first offices and later housed the city’s Community Foundation.

Another example is the original home of T. C. Abbot at 327 Seymour St. Abbot was one of the early presidents of Michigan Agricultural College and built the home for his retirement.

Also included is an early apartment building, designed in the Spanish Colonial Revival style.  "The Spanish Colonial Revival movement is really the first time that Midwestern America begins to look to Western America for design cues.  Suddenly, it was avant-garde to have a little bit of California in downtown Lansing!" Marvin said.

Houses on the tour also cover a range of architectural styles including Stick Style, Romanesque, Neo Classical and even Spanish Colonial Revival.

Cathy Babcock, the former head of the Lansing Art Gallery, will conduct the tour along with Valerie Marvin.

Marvin said the tours are an easy and informal way of learning about the city’s history while getting an overview of architectural styles.

Since the Common Ground Festival is held the same evening the tour will last only one hour giving participants plenty of time to arrive for the Festival’s events. Marvin said parking is relatively easy to find west of Seymour St.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Lansing Snapshots: From Sepia to Selfies

We need your photos. The Historical Society of Greater Lansing and the Library of Michigan are sponsoring “Lansing Snapshots: from Sepia to Selfies” which will cover 150 years of Lansing’s photographic history.

The concept of the exhibit is to show both iconic photographs, but also what are called vernacular photos or everyday photos of Lansing and its people, said Valerie Marvin, president of the Historical Society.

“We want to showcase photographs that will surprise you and that you haven’t seen before in addition to some photographs that have become icons like the 1975 flood photos”, she said.

Marvin said the Society is especially looking for photographs from all eras that include famous Lansing citizens such as R.E. Olds, Malcolm X, Earvin Johnson, and the Stratosphere Man. She also said the Society is searching for photographs of weather calamities such as floods and snowstorms along with celebrations ranging from family events to holiday events.

The exhibit which will be on display in the Library from September through December will feature photographs, including their context in the history of the photographic processes from daguerreotypes to selfies.  Also featured is a major exhibit on loan from the Clark Library at Central Michigan University which focuses on the history of photography as seen through its many photographic processes.

The exhibit will be broken down by a historical timeline, but will include images representing the MSU campus, lost Lansing, recreation, entertainment, sports and city and family celebrations.
One segment of the exhibit will include a look at Lansing’s professional photographers across time and their contributions to the history of Lansing.

Since it is important to include all aspects of Lansing society we are looking for photographs from African American, Hispanics, Asians and other racial and ethnic groups that represent their place in Lansing history, Marvin said.

The exhibit will also include rare photographic equipment and cameras on loan from area residents.
Original photographs and photographic equipment can be loaned or will be scanned for inclusion in the exhibit. All original photographs and photo equipment will be in locked cases.

So who out there has the best photograph of Lake Lansing amusement park or the long gone R.E. Olds Mansion, the Michigan Theatre, the original city hall, a family Christmas tradition or even early horse racing in Lansing?

To loan us a photo, e-mail info@lansinghistory.org or call 517-282-0671.

HSGL reserves the right to reject or accept photography on the basis of content and suitability to overall exhibit.  

Friday, June 19, 2015

Holling C. Holling June 25 Event Canceled!

We regret to inform you that our program scheduled for Thursday, June 25, at Lansing City Hall about author and illustrator Holling C. Holling has been canceled.  We hope to reschedule for sometime in the fall.

Please remember that our current exhibit, Lansing Goes to War, will close on June 30!  Stop by Lansing City Hall anytime Monday - Friday between 7:30 am and 5:30 pm to see the exhibit before it closes.