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!  
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