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.