Friday, June 29, 2018

July 2018 Events

Michigan Ave. Eastside Walking Tour
Saturday, July 14, 2018 - 10:00 a.m.
Tour meets at the corner of Michigan Ave and Clemens St.

            Come stroll with HSGL through the historic 2000 block of Michigan Ave on Saturday July 14, at 10:00 a.m. The 2000 block has long been a focal point and anchor for the dynamic Eastside neighborhood.
            Dave Muylle, a restoration specialist, builder and neighborhood resident, and Joan Nelson, Director of Allen Street Neighborhood Center, will conduct the tour.

            The 2000 block has seen scores of businesses come and go as times and tastes changed, continuing to serve as an important retail and housing area for the neighborhood. It has seen numerous drug stores, apartments, butchers, grocery stores, bars, bakeries, restaurants and a hardware store since modern development began in the 1920s. When the block was first built up neighbors mostly walked to stores on the strip or took a trolley.

            Muylle and Nelson will explore the transformation of the 2000 block during its 100 year history. Following the tour join Dave at the nearby cottage neighborhood he is constructing on Leslie St. to see how the neighborhood is on the move.        

South Capitol Ave. Walking Tour
Saturday, July 28, 2018 - 10:00 a.m.
Tour meets on Capitol Square

            Join HSGL for a walk down South Capitol Ave. where we'll be discussing architecture, people, and the growth of the city on Saturday, July 28. Once home to the wooden capitol building, beautiful brownstones, and elegant residences, South Capitol Ave has morphed into a place of business and civic pleasure with the construction of two Masonic Temples, the development and beautification of Reutter Park, and the creation of the downtown branch of the Capitol Area District Library. The tour will also wander by some properties west of Capitol Ave., including the Porter Apartment Building/Hotel and the old YMCA.

Congratulations to the 2018 Morris Peckham Award Winners!

            Sgt. Justin Moore and Msgr. George Michalek J.C.L. were honored at the annual meeting of the Historical Society of Greater Lansing for their efforts to preserve Lansing history.

            The Robert J. Morris and Linda R. Peckham Towering Achievement Award was presented by Linda Peckham, spouse of the late Robert Morris. The award was created by Peckham as a way to recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to the preservation of Lansing history.
Morris and Peckham were among the first to recognize the importance of preserving Lansing history and were also pioneers in adaptive reuse when they restored the St. Mary’s Convent and converted it into condominiums.

            Moore was recognized for his efforts in leading the Lansing Police Department’s 125th Anniversary celebration and Michalek for his role in the establishment of the Diocese of Lansing Archive.

            Each of the award winners received a personalized plaque illustrated with a stylized version of the Olds Tower made from a “found” printing plate from the 1930s.

Monday, June 4, 2018

June 2018 Events

Upcoming Events

1968: A Year in American History and Its Impact on the East Lansing Area
Wednesday, June 13, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
East Lansing High School Student Union - 509 Burcham Dr.

            The year 1968 brought more fighting in Vietnam, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, and the Democratic Convention in Chicago. Locally in East Lansing there were issues like open housing and ending the ban on alcohol sales in East Lansing.
            A panel of area residents, including Clarence Underwood, Sarah Fryer, and Nelson Brown will revisit this dramatic year and what it meant for the East Lansing area. Lynn Jondahl will moderate. The event is sponsored by the East Lansing Foundation and the Historical Society of Greater Lansing.

HSGL Annual Meeting, Cherry Hill Walking Tour
Thursday, June 14, 2018  - 6:30 p.m.
Cherry Hill Park - 515 River St.

            On Thursday, June 14, HSGL members are asked to attend a very brief annual meeting, at which we’ll vote on next year’s board and enjoy some ice cream! The proposed slate of officers for the 2018-2019 HSGL year is:

President - Bill Castanier
Vice President - Valerie Marvin
Secretary - Ron Emery
Treasurer - Tim Kaltenback
Trustee - Cathy Babcock
Trustee - Helen Mickens
Trustee - Zig Olds
Trustee - Mary Kwas

            An all-new tour of the Cherry Hill neighborhood will begin at 7:00 p.m. One of Lansing’s last surviving late-19th century neighborhoods, Cherry Hill is full of architectural gems that were once home to some of the city’s best-known business and civic leaders. Learn about the people who originally built Cherry Hill and the evolution of the neighborhood into a one-time home of the arts and business, while enjoying a pleasant evening walk.

Learn more about HSGL’s July and August walking tours at

Modern as Tomorrow:
Mid-Century Modern Architecture Along the Michigan Roadside
by Christine Byron & Tom Wilson
Thursday, June 21, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan 702 W. Kalamazoo

            The Michigan roadside landscape changed dramatically after WWII with the rise of “mid-century modern” architecture. Sometimes referred to as “googie,” “jetset,” “space-age,” “Jetsons,” or “populuxe,” this style of architecture is characterized by flat planes, geometric angles, large glass windows, 1950’s colors, and oftentimes flat roofs. Although Michigan produced a wealth of well-known architects, such as Alden B. Dow and Eero Saarinen, most of the motels, restaurants, and gas stations in this presentation were not created by such well-known figures. And unlike the buildings by these famous architects, most of the roadside mid-century modern buildings have beed razed, significantly changed, or “remuddled.” Through their postcard and ephemera collection, Byron and Wilson have tried to document this architectural period that was once seen on every major highway in Michigan. 

Christine and Tom share a love of Michigan and a fascination with its history. They are co-authors of the five books in the Vintage Views series. The pictorial histories, illustrated with vintage images and ephemera, explore the development of tourism in Michigan. They also have a regular column in Michigan Blue magazine. They live in Grand Rapids.

Lansing Police Department 125th Anniversary Exhibit

            Stop by Lansing City Hall anytime during normal business hours (Monday-Friday 8:00 a.m.-5:30 p.m.) to see HSGL’s 2018 summer exhibit celebrating the 125th anniversary of the Lansing Police Department. The exhibit chronicles the evolution of the police department from its official founding in 1893 to the present day through dozens of photographs, unique artifacts (like an old blue call box), police-related equipment, educational puppets, uniforms, and memorabilia from the old charity Bull Bowls, better known as Pigs vs. Freaks. Special thanks to LPD for partnering with HSGL for this one-of-a-kind anniversary celebration.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

May 2018 Upcoming Events

The German Backlash
Tuesday, May 15 – 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo St.

            Sara Kosiba, English Professor at Troy University in Alabama and biographer of Lansing’s John Herrmann, will be featured at a book release party and signing for a rediscovered Herrmann manuscript. Lansing’s forgotten author, John Herrmann, pal of Hemingway and grandson of the founder of John Herrmann’s Sons, a bespoke Lansing tailor, often turned to his hometown for inspiration in his writing. His recently discovered manuscript Foreign Born is a fictionalized account of the anti-German backlash in Lansing during WWI.

            In Foreign Born Herrmann describes tar-and-featherings and other actions against German citizens who espoused pro-German feelings. Included in the manuscript is a nasty libel trial against the Lansing State Journal regarding their description of what led to the tar-and-feathering of a Lansing butcher.

            The manuscript was rediscovered by Kosiba, who uncovered it while researching the author’s life at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas. Kosiba then shepherded the manuscript through to publication. The book release party is free and books will be available for sale.

Old Germantown Walking Tour
Thursday, May 17 – 7:00 p.m.
LCC Administration Building, Board Room, 610 Capitol Ave.

            A companion walking tour of Lansing’s old Germantown neighborhood, adjacent to Lansing Community College, will be led by LCC history Professor David Siwik.

            When German families immigrated to the United States, they often settled in close proximity, forming “Germantowns” in many communities. Germans who settled in Lansing gravitated to an area along Capitol and Seymour Streets. Many of the new immigrants also started businesses in downtown and Old Town, including such notables as Herrmann’s, Kositchek’s, and Bissinger’s Flowers. Bissinger’s was located where the Lansing Community College Administration Building now stands.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

March Programs

Spiritualism in Our Own Backyard
 by Penny Swartz
Thursday, March 15, 2018 - 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan - 702 W. Kalamazoo

The Historical Society of Greater Lansing is hosting a program, “Spiritualism in Our Own Backyard,” by retired clergy person Penelope Swartz at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 15, at the Library of Michigan, 702 W. Kalamazoo, Lansing. The program is free and open to the public.

The American socio-religious movement which started in upstate New York in 1848 spread like wildfire across the United States arriving in the Lansing area in 1882 when Lucretia Shaw opened a spiritualism camp at Pine Lake, now Lake Lansing. Spiritualists believed it was possible to communicate with the dead.  Even the parents of R.E. Olds, Pliny and Sarah Olds and were among the founders of the Namoka Spiritualist Camp Meeting Association which evolved into the Haslett Spiritualist Camp when James Haslett bought the camp in 1887 and began  attracting thousands of campers each summer.

The camp operated for six weeks during the summer, until about 1910, when Haslett’s spouse could no longer operate the camp profitably. In its heyday, the camp owners had erected an auditorium holding 2000 and a dining hall for 250 on a 100 acre piece of land. In addition, a special building for mediums and medium training was built with 16 private rooms.

In addition to spiritualist programs, campers had a vibrant range of other activities including dances and lectures which were also open to the public. To accommodate the public, rooming houses and a hotel cropped up nearby serviced by a trolley and a train which brought a steady stream of spiritualists and curiosity seekers.

The spiritualist movement attracted some notable international and U.S. personalities including Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens and Mary Todd Lincoln. Locally, the Mason area Meads, Mary Jeannete and George, were spiritualists.  The movement also attracted the attention of famed magician Harry Houdini who was instrumental in debunking spiritualists and mediums.

Mrs. Mead, a practicing medium, went by the professional name of “Lady” and was assisted by Yunundeo and Yokie.

Mediums were early adopters of emerging technology such as the telegraph, telephone, electricity and photography. Michigan also had an association of mediums which issued certificates certifying mediums to be a “trusted medium” and exhibiting “spotless purity.”

In addition to the Pine Lake spiritualism camp, Grand Ledge also hosted summer camps that delved into similar aspects of the movement. As late as 1948 the Lansing City Directory listed eight spiritualist churches in Lansing.

Today, the infamous Ouija Board continues the tradition of certain mediums who used the talking writing technique of allegedly communicating with the dead.  

Growing (Up In) Lansing's Catholic Church

by Rev. Msgr. George C. Michalek
Wednesday, March 21 – 6:30 p.m.
St. Mary Cathedral - 219 Seymour

            The first recorded Catholic activity in Lansing dates to 1853, with construction of the first church beginning in 1859. The name St. Mary was attached to the community. At the time, Lansing was regularly visited by the priest from Corunna, who moved to Lansing in 1966. New parishes were established in the “Roaring Twenties” and again in the post-WWII boom. Now there are nine worship sites in Lansing and East Lansing.

            Join Monsignor George C. Michalek, archivist of the diocese of Lansing  since 1979, who will explore the development of the Catholic parishes, the establishment of the diocese in 1937, and what it meant to grow-up Catholic in the greater Lansing area. The talk will be given at St. Mary Cathedral. Following his presentation attendees will have the opportunity to visit the small museum at the Cathedral dedicated to the history of the Lansing diocese.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

February 2018 Program

Capitol Women: Librarians, Clerks, Janitresses, and Lawmakers 1879-1940
by Valerie Marvin
Thursday, February 22 - 7:00 p.m.
Library of Michigan - 702 W. Kalamazoo

            When the present Capitol opened, Harriet Tenney, Michigan’s first female state librarian, held control over almost an entire wing of the building. The first professional woman to hold a top tier gubernatorial appointment in the peninsular state, Tenney was aware of her significance. In her first report to the governor she wrote 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.”

            In the years that followed, Tenney was joined at the Capitol by an ever-increasing number of women who worked as assistant librarians, clerks, secretaries, telephone operators, and janitresses. Laboring day in and day out, these women fulfilled vital roles in state government as they kept careful records, operated new technologies, and, in the case of Harriet’s protégé, Mary Spencer, built a statewide lending library program that benefitted Michigan residents for decades. Among Mary’s contemporaries was another fascinating figure, Belle Maniates, who clerked during the day and wrote short stories and novels at night. In 1912 Maniates published her first novel, David Dunne, about a boy who grows up to be governor. Several scenes in it are set in the Capitol building.

            The dawn of women’s suffrage in 1920 brought Michigan’s first female legislators to the Capitol, including Grand Rapids suffrage leader Eva McCall Hamilton, and, in 1924, Cora Reynolds Anderson, a Native American educator and health activist from L’Anse. Bold advocates for women and children, Hamilton and Anderson were praised by some, and loathed by others, who saw them as distractions and interlopers in the male legislature.

            Learn about these trailblazing women and the rules—written and unspoken—that both limited and inspired their successes.

Sunday, January 7, 2018

January 2018 Events

A History of Rock and Roll Postcards

Tuesday, January 9 - 6:00 p.m.
Delta Township District Library - 5130 Davenport Dr., Delta Township (just NE of the Lansing Mall)

Wally Jung, a postcard collector for over 25 years, will present a history of popular music form the 1940s through the present, as illustrated in picture postcards. The program follows how radio and television shaped music into a major cultural force in the 1950s and 1960s.

Besides being a collector, Wally Jung is also a portcard dealer and show promotor. His interest in pop cuture led to a degree in American Studies from Michigan State University, and another degree in photography from Lansing Community College.

War and Speech: Propaganda, Patriotism, and Dissent in the Great War
Exhibit Tour with Curator Shirley Wajda

Tuesday, January 16, 2018 - 6:00 p.m.
Michigan State University Museum - 409 West Circle Drive
Exhibit Open November 11, 2017 – November 11, 2018

War and Speech: Propaganda, Patriotism, and Dissent in the Great War explores, through the MSU Museum’s extensive World War I poster and militaria collections, the new ways in which Americans understood civic duty and civic speech.

The techniques of persuasion that helped to shape the modern world were developed for and during the Great War (1914-1918).  In the United States, posters, cartoons, songs, and other popular culture were designed to mobilize the entire home front, to make every adult and child feel intimately involved with the war effort. At the same time, Liberty Loan campaigns, military parades, and other activities to support the troops as they trained and fought featured all aspects of military life, from the doughboy’s field kit to hard-won battlefield trophies brought back in victory.

Paradoxically, during this first world war to defend ideals of democracy and freedom, state surveillance and restrictions on dissent increased. These powerful images of persuasion simultaneously extended a promise of inclusion to all Americans in the life of the nation, even as women, African Americans, Native Americans, and others struggled for long-denied civil and political rights. 

Propaganda posters produced by the United States government, by commercial lithographers, and by average citizens created a new, modern way of signifying patriotism and the American people.  War and Speech provides a window to that moment, framing Americans' ideas about nation and citizenship in this critical historic era.

New Date, Location for Postcard Show
The next Lansing Postcard Show will be held Saturday, January 27, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 2175 Hamilton Rd., Okemos. For more information, check the website:

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century
by Hendrik Meijer
Wednesday, November 8, 2017 - 6:30 p.m.
Library of Michigan - 702 W. Kalamazoo St

            It would be a fair question to ask why the portrait of Michigan Senator Arthur Vandenberg is displayed alongside those of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, Robert M. La Follette Sr., and Robert Taft in the U.S. Senate Reception Room in the nation’s Capitol. What distinguishes him to be among those important luminaries?

            A new biography of the Grand Rapids Republican senator by Hendrik Meijer, CEO and executive chairman of Meijer Inc., helps illuminate why Vandenberg is so important to the political history of the United States. Meijer’s book, Arthur Vandenberg: The Man in the Middle of the American Century, took 27 years to research and write, but it was worth waiting for. The author found that a major impediment to writing a book was his day job at the helm of one of the nation’s largest supermarket chains.

            Meijer will join Lansing Community College history professor David Siwik to talk about his new book. The event is free and books will be for sale.

            Vandenberg, who in the first half of his career was a newspaper editor and publisher of the now defunct Grand Rapids Herald, believed strongly that man makes his own destiny. He also strongly advocated for neutrality during World War I until the United States was forced into the conflict.

            The Michigan senator also was noted for his ability to cross the aisle and seek consensus. During the administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt he was responsible for the establishment of the FDIC. He later sought the Republican nomination for president.

            Meijer also discovered in his research that Vandenberg became close with the author Sinclair Lewis, despite their differing political views. It is thought that Lewis used Vandenberg as the prototype for two characters in his book It Couldn’t Happen Here.

            Vandenberg may be best known for his speech following Pearl Harbor which became known as the “speech heard ’round the world.” Following World War II he was instrumental in the establishment of NATO, the Marshall Plan, and the United Nations.

            The author was aided in his research by numerous scrapbooks, diaries and journals of both Vandenberg and his spouse Hazel. He discovered the family held back one page from a scrapbook…but, you’ll learn more it about if you come to the event!

            Meijer’s book suggests that there is a role in politics for that one person who steps up and puts the good of the country ahead of the party.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

From the Wilderness to the Heights

 From the Wilderness to the Heights: 
The Transformation of the University of Michigan 1852-1900
Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 7:00 pm
Library of Michigan - 702 W. Kalamazoo St.

            This year marks the University of Michigan's bicentennial--an auspicious time to reconsider the history of this important institution. Join HSGL and the Library of Michigan for a talk by Prof. Fran Blouin, who will discuss how this once remote school, founded when Michigan was still a territory, blossomed into one of the most important universities in the nation by the turn of the twentieth century.

            Blouin's carefully researched and eloquently told story reveals how presidents Henry Tappan and James Angell, along with some remarkable faculty members and deep-thinking students, fostered exciting discussions about the very essence of humanity, challenging both the academic and religious status quo. These extraordinary ideas, which were discussed, debated, and challenged in ordinary classrooms in Ann Arbor, would transform all of higher education, laying the foundation for our modern research institutions.

            Fran Blouin is Professor of History and Professor in the School of Information at the University of Michigan. He has been on the faculty of the University since 1978, serving as the director of the University's Bentley Historical Library from 1981 to 2013. 

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Malcolm X's Daughter To Speak At MSU

The Life of Malcolm X
Thursday, October 12, 7:00 p.m.
Erickson Kiva, Erickson Hall, MSU - 620 Farm Lane

            Michigan State University’s Center for Inclusion and Intercultural Initiatives, the Michigan Humanities Council, and the Historical Society of Greater Lansing are sponsoring an appearance by Ilyasah Shabazz the daughter of Malcolm X.

            Shabazz will participate in a facilitated discussion with audience members led by MSU’s John Aerni-Flessner, Assistant Professor in the Residential College in the Arts and Humanities (RCAH), on the life of Malcolm X at 7 p.m., Thursday, October 12, in Erickson Hall Kiva on the campus of MSU. The Kiva was the site of an important speech delivered by Malcolm X on January 23, 1963. The event is free.

            Shabazz is touring the state as part of the Michigan Humanities Council’s Great Michigan Read, which selected Shabazz’s book X: A Novel for its 2017-2018 program. The novel, co-authored by young adult writer Kekla Magoon, is a fictionalized version of the life of a young Malcolm X, then Malcolm Little, who lived in Lansing and Mason from 1928-1940. The book, which has been called a “tale of reinvention and redemption” about one of the most important Civil Rights leaders of the 20th century, also was a 2016 Michigan Notable Book.

            On the morning of Friday, October 13, Shabazz will place a simple roadside marker in memory of her grandfather, Earl Little, who was killed in 1931 under suspicious circumstances (some say killed by a streetcar, others say by the Black Legion) at the corner of Michigan Avenue and Detroit Street on Lansing’s east side.

            Bill Castanier, president of the Historical Society, said, “It is important to recognize the life of Malcolm X and his formative years in Lansing. He is one of the most outspoken and important figures in the Civil Rights Movement.” 

            The homes in Lansing where Malcolm lived with his mother, father, and siblings have all been destroyed or torn down. The family’s first home on Lansing’s northwest side was set on fire by the Black Legion and burned to the ground in 1929.

            Malcolm X often returned to the Lansing area as an adult visiting family and friends. In 1958 Malcolm X and Betty Shabazz married in Lansing.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Frank Lloyd Wright Okemos Home Tour

Frank Lloyd Wright Lecture & Okemos Home Tour
Sunday, October 8, 2017
Lecture 12:00 noon in Room Rm 188, Psychology Bldg, MSU
Home Tour 1:00 - 4:00 p.m.

Mid-Michigan has an opportunity to learn more about Frank Lloyd Wright, the man dubbed as "the greatest American architect of all time," by the American Institute of Architects. On Sunday, October 8, from 1:00-4:00 p.m., the four Wright homes in Okemos, Michigan, will be on a home tour sponsored by the Historical Society of Greater Lansing and DOCOMOMO-MI. 

Wright designed 33 homes in Michigan between 1939 and 1958, including the four in Okemos. The homes are in the "Usonian" style. Each is a single-story dwelling without a garage or much storage. The homes are often L-shaped to fit around gardens and terraces, incorporating the natural surroundings into Wright's design.

This is the first time all four homes, built between 1940 and 1958, will be open to the public at one time. The homes on the tour are:

The Erling and Katherine Brauner House
2527 Arrowhead

The James and Dolores Edwards House
2504 Arrowhead

The Alma Goetsch and Katherine Winckler House
2410 Hulett Road

The Donald and Mary Lou Schaberg House
1155 Wrightwind Drive

Photography by Kim Kauffman

The tour is self-directed. No photographs in the homes, and no children under 12, please. 

Prior to the tour, Susan J. Bandes--author, director of the Museum Studies Program at MSU, and professor of Art History--will give a free lecture on the homes that Wright designed in Okemos, including several that were not built, and the continued importance of Frank Lloyd Wright. The lecture will begin in Room 188 in the Psychology Building on the MSU Campus.

The Okemos tour and lecture is part of a statewide recognition organized by DOCOMOMO-MI on the occasion of what would have been Wright's 150th birthday. Celebrations of Wright's birth are also being organized across the country.

Tickets costing $20 are available to purchase online using the Paypal button below and will be available at the lecture and at the Goetsch Winckler House between 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. during the tour.

Bandes, the former director of the Kresge Art Museum, is an expert on Modernism and recently authored Mid-Michigan Modern: From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie, published by MSU Press in October 2016. Bandes's book will also be available for purchase at the lecture and at the Goetsch Winckler House.