Saturday, January 24, 2015

Upcoming Events

Chief Okemos, Man & Myth
By Jim Lalone
Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 7:00pm
Downtown Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting genealogist and amateur historian James LaLone for a program on “Chief Okemos: the Man and the Myth”, 7 p.m., Thursday, February 5 at the Capital Area District Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave, in downtown Lansing.

LaLone who has been researching Chief Okemos for several years will explore the many myths that surround the life of Chief Okemos including where he was born; was he a descendant of Chief Pontiac; his wartime experiences, how old Chief Okemos was when he died and where he is buried.

“No other Lansing figure has inspired such a mythology as Chief Okemos,” Historical Society President Valerie Marvin said.  “Lansing residents are proud to call him one of our own, yet most of us really don’t know too much about him.”

LaLone who has been doing genealogy for more than 40 years became interested in Okemos when he began doing Michigan and Canadian Indian genealogy. He now has more than 42,000 Michigan Indians in a data base.

“I was an anthropology major in college and naturally gravitated toward Indian genealogy,” Lalone said.

He said he reviewed “everything and anything” he could find that has been written about Chief Okemos and able to more carefully construct a history of the Indian Chief. The village of Okemos is named after him.

“I think people will be surprised about what they think they know about this warrior chief,” he said.
Also local historian and collector Craig Whitford of Holt will display and discuss his tin type photograph of Chief Okemos which he bought on E-bay several years ago. Only two other photographs of Chief Okemos are known to exist and one, an ambrotype, is in the State Archives; the other is in private hands. It is likely the photographs, with slight differences, were shot at the same time in about 1857.

There several works of art which have been executed of Okemos including a  painting in the State Archives; a painting in the Nokomis Museum in Okemos, a painting in the Ingham County Courthouse and a painting in the Clark Archives at Central Michigan University. Several other lesser art pieces including a Lansing City Pulse cover have also been done.

LaLone also will explore Okemos’ war time experience and discuss Chief Okemos’ descendants. It is known that Okemos, likely a mixed Ottawa and Chippewa, fought under the British flag at Fort Meigs near Sandusky during the War of 1812 and was seriously wounded in the battle with Mad Dog Anthony’s troops. Upon his death the Chief was written about in the London Illustrated News.

Also coming soon:

Michigan & the War of 1812
By Adam Franti
Thursday, February 19, 2015 - 7:00 pm
Downtown Library, 401 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing

Monday, January 5, 2015

1847 - Year of Beginnings

1847 - Year of Beginnings
by Professor Emeritus Ann Harrison
Thursday, January 15th, 2015 - 7:00 pm
Downtown CADL, 401 S. Capitol Ave., Lansing

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting former Michigan State University Professor Ann Harrison who will present “1847: Year of Beginnings” 7 p.m., Thursday, January 15 at the downtown branch of the Capital District Library, 401 S. Capitol. Harrison chose 1847 since it was the year Lansing was selected as the State Capital.

She said it was only one of many unlikely events that would occur that year.

“It was very strange for Lansing to be chosen, but it turned out quite well,” Harrison said.

“No one expected Lansing to become the Capitol in 1847,” Historical Society President Valerie Marvin agreed.  “Lansing didn’t even officially exist at the time.  The entire township was then home to exactly eight registered voters, and the total population likely was less than 100.  It was a bit of an odd choice.”

Harrison who is a life-long Lansing resident said began lecturing with a focus on one-year in world history after retiring from teaching French for 34 years.

“It’s an interesting way to explore history and it’s always quite surprising what occurred during a specific year,” she said.

“Lansing as the Capital may have been unlikely, but certainly not more unlikely than Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis both in Congress,” Harrison said.

Harrison also will delve into famous individuals who were born; the outstanding books published; the formation of social movements and other significant events.

For example, she said Thomas Edison, Jesse James and Graham Bell all were born in 1847 and the Communist Party was founded that year. 1847 was the year of the first U.S. postage stamp and the books “Wuthering Heights” and “Jane Eyre” were both published.\

“When you pick a year you don’t know what you are going to find,” she said.

Harrison said she decided to go in a totally different direction after retirement and began teaching history by-the-year in MSU’s Evening College until it was eliminated. Since then, she has been exploring the years for the residents of Burcham Hills in East Lansing.

Knapp's Auction Nets $23,000 for Future Lansing History Museum

A very big thank you to everyone who supported HSGL's annual auction at the Knapp's Centre!  Thanks to your donations, attendance, and purchases, we raised $23,000 - an increase of $8,000 over last year, making this our most profitable auction yet.  All of the money is now in our museum fund and will be used for the purpose of establishing a Lansing area historical museum.

Thank you all very, very much for your support!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

A Old Fashioned Christmas at Knapp's Silent Auction

Knapp's Centre 2014 Silent Auction
An Old Fashioned Christmas at Knapp's!
The Historical Society of Greater Lansing's 2014 Silent Auction
Saturday, November 15, 2014 - 4:00pm
Knapp's Centre
300 South Washington Square, Lansing

Sponsored By

The evening includes:

- Tours of the Knapp's Centre, highlighting stories of devoted shoppers, longtime employees, and the story of Knapp's renovation, including a peek into a new apartment
- A mini exhibit about the history of Knapp's
- A slideshow of historic images and advertisements from Knapps 
- Bidding on 140+ silent and live auction items (for a complete list click on the 2014 Silent and Live Auction Items Link above)
- Light Hors d'oeuvres

Mark your calendar for Saturday, November 15, 2014 and join us at HSGL’s annual silent auction to benefit the museum fund.  The funds raised through the silent auction will help HSGL continue its efforts to build a collection of historical Lansing artifacts as we work to found a future Lansing area history museum.  You can help HSGL make the annual auction a success in many ways: by purchasing a ticket and attending the event, donating an item for the silent auction, or financially sponsoring the event.

"Physicians Health Plan is proud to sponsor the Historical Society of Greater Lansing’s Silent Auction Museum Fundraiser.  PHP, as a Lansing area employer for more than 35 years, recognizes the need to revive and revitalize historical buildings in Lansing for adaptive use. Historic building preservation tells the story of a city, and Lansing’s story will continue to be conveyed in the years to come through the newly renovated Knapp’s Building.”

Purchasing Tickets
Tickets cost $15 per person and may be pre-ordered by filling out and returning a ticket order form with payment (click here to download ticket form) or by ordering online through PayPal.
Ticket orders and sponsorship forms may be mailed to:
Historical Society of Greater Lansing
P.O. Box 12095
Lansing, MI 48901

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

October 2014 Upcoming Events

Made in Lansing Lunchtime Series
Wednesdays, from 12:10 - 12:30 
Lansing City Hall, 124 W. Michigan Ave.

October 22, 2014
 LorAnn Oils: From Okemos Pharmacy to 
International Corporation by John Grettenberger, CEO 
and grandson of the company’s founder.

Michigan Agricultural College Campus Life 1900 – 1925: A Postcard Book
Thursday, October 23, 2014 – 7:00pm
Downtown CADL – 401 South Capitol Avenue

 Join author Stephen Terry for a remarkable 
armchair tour of Michigan Agricultural College’s 
Campus at the beginning of the 20th century. The 
postcards depict everything from early sports teams to 
buildings lost to the wrecking ball and fire including 
Abbott Hall, the Women’s Building, Chemistry, 
Engineering, Dairy, off-campus housing, and even the 
infamous underground tunnels. Books will be available 
for purchase and signing. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Raye of Light

Raye of Light Book Event
Thursday, September 25, 2014 - 7:00 pm
Downtown CADL - 401 South Capitol Avenue

Join author Tom Shanahan and MSU 1966 National Champion Quarterback Jimmy Raye for a discussion about 'Raye of Light', the story behind Duffy Daughtery's leading role in integrating college football in the 1960s and Raye's football career.  Books will be available for signing.  Learn more here.  

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Last HSGL Summer Walking Tour

Church & State
Saturday, August 23, 2014 - 10:00 am
Lansing City Hall Plaza - 124 W. Michigan Ave.

Join us for a stroll past some of Lansing's most prominent buildings that ring Capitol Square.  Stops include Lansing City Hall, the Billie Farnum building, the Chamberlain Building (the post office), the Capitol building, the Capitol Mall, First Presbyterian Church, St. Mary's Cathedral, St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and Central United Methodist Church.  The tour will conclude with the opportunity to enter into St. Paul's, and see their lovely stained glass windows while enjoying some cookies and punch with their members!

Please note that all HSGL walking tours are free and open to the public, though donations are gratefully accepted.

Monday, July 7, 2014

HSGL July Walking Tours

Join HSGL this month for three more Lansing walking tours!

REO Town
*New Tour for 2014*
Saturday, July 12, 2014 – 10:00 am
Tour meets at the LBWL Grand Trunk Depot
Buildings and sited featured include the depot, the REO Factory and REO Clubhouse site, two historic filling stations, and a former bank, among others.

Downtown Alleyways
*New Tour for 2014*
Thursday, July 24 – 7:00 pm
Meets at Lansing City Hall Plaza
Explore the backsides of Lansing’s downtown buildings, and learn about the important functions that alleyways have served.

Lost Lansing
Saturday, July 26 – 10:00 am
Tour meets at Lansing City Hall Plaza

Lost buildings include the wooden capitol building, Lansing’s only octagon house, the Barnes Castle, the old Post Office and City Hall building, and others.

All tours are free and open to the public, though donations are gratefully accepted.  

Monday, June 23, 2014

HSGL Walking Tours This Week

Downtown Disasters
Thursday Evening, June 26, 7:00 pm
co-sponsored by Downtown Lansing Inc.

An Exploration of the Fires and Floods that have changed downtown Lansing
Disasters to be discussed include:  Kern's Hotel Fire, the 1875 Bridge disaster, the Plymouth Congregational Church Fire, and the State Office Building (now the Cass Building) Fire

Behind the Facades, South 
Saturday Morning, June 28, 10:00 am

A Study of Lansing Architecture on South Washington and Capitol Avenues
Buildings to be discussed include: the Bank of Lansing (now Comerica), Liebermann's Building, Rouser Drugs (now Tom and Chee), the Hollister Building, the Olds Tower (now Boji Tower), the Strand/Michigan Theatre (now the Atrium Office Building, home of Dickinson Wright), the Ranney Building, the Knapp's building, and the Arbaugh building, among others. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

Wesley Bintz and the Moores Park Pool

Historical Society of Greater Lansing Annual Meeting
Thursday, June 12, 2014 - 5:00pm
Potluck-Style Picnic

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing will hold its annual meeting 5:30 p.m., Thursday June 12 at the pavilion in Moores Park just off W. Barnes Ave. Accompanying the meeting will be a potluck style picnic with hotdogs and drinks provided by the Society. The event is free and the public is invited, but are encouraged to bring a dish to pass.

A special feature of the meeting will be a presentation by Tegan D’Arcangelis Baiocchi, an architectural historian, on the history and architecture of the Moores Park Pool. The pool was designed by Wesley Bintz who was Lansing’s city engineer in the 1920s. The pool program is part of the Society’s “Made in Lansing” exhibit and celebration which is highlighting 125 products made in the city over 125 years. “Made in Lansing” exhibits are in the atrium of Lansing City Hall and at the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum and are open through October.

The design of a “Bintz” pool was so successful that the Bintz left his city position and patented the construction technique which was used to construct more than 100 pools nationwide. The Lansing pool which will open this next week is the oldest Bintz pool still standing after his first pool in Flint was destroyed.
The ”Bintz” pool was popular with cities due to its lower construction costs since it was above ground with the changing areas housed underneath the pool.

Valerie Marvin, president of the Historical Society said, “Lansing’s burgeoning population in the 1920s meant that local neighborhoods were bursting at the seams with families that moved here to work in the auto industry and as social restraints relaxed in the 1920s pools became popular recreational sites where both children, and sometimes adults, could go to cool off on steamy summer days.”

She said pools, like movie theatres, which were often the first air-conditioned buildings in most cities, offered a place to socialize while escaping the city's oppressive summer heat.

“Company owners may have gone “up north” to escape the heat of the summer, but the working man didn't have this option; instead, after a long day at the shop, his escape could come in the form of a quick dip in the local pool.” Marvin said.

Some pools even had separate hours for children during the day, and for adults in the evening, she said.

Baiocchi, who works for a Fort Wayne Indiana consulting firm, is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University’s Master of Science Historic Preservation Program. The historian first became interested in Bintz Pools when she completed a project in Flint, Michigan where Bintz built his first pool.  She said tracking Bintz Pools has “sort of become a hobby” and she has identified 63 pools of the 135 that are said to be of his design.

Moores Park Pool was built in 1922 and was named for the Lansing developer J.H. Moores. It is on the U.S. Department of Interior’s National Register of Historic Places.

Special thanks to the Michigan Humanities Council for a quick grant to fund this event!  
Michigan Humanities Council color logo