History of Lansing, Michigan

Lansing is located about 85 miles northwest of Detroit, where the Cedar River flows into the Grand River. It was settled in 1847 and immediately became the capital of Michigan. The name is derived from Lansing, New York, home of one of the original settlers.Lansing is not the oldest community in its area. Holt, five miles south, was settled in 1837.In 1844, residents of nearby North Settlement built a dam and mill in what is now North Lansing, Michigan. Recognizing an opportunity, Seymour proposed that the Michigan legislature, which was deadlocked over the site of a new capital, accept his water-power site in the yet-to-be developed wilderness.The legislature agreed and built a two-story capitol building near Seymour's settlement, between 1873 and 1878. It stands in a 10-acre park, surrounded on three sides by the Grand River.Ransom E. Olds experimented with steam-powered "horseless carriages" in the late 19th century in Lansing. He later switched to gasoline power and moved his operations to Detroit. Due to differences with the company's directors, Olds quit the Olds Motor Works and returned to Lansing to found the Reo Motor Car Company, whose name was derived from the initials of his name.Lansing grew rapidly as a center of automaking. The Fisher Body plant, along with other enterprises, contributed to Lansing's population growth from 16,000 in 1900 to nearly 80,000 by 1930.East Lansing, Michigan, a suburb of Lansing, is home to Michigan State University. Originally established as the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan in 1855, it was the first land grant college in the country.


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Lansing, capital of Michigan, U.S., located in Ingham county. The city site, on the Grand River at its junction with the Red Cedar River, was a wilderness when the state capital was moved there from Detroit (about 85 miles [140 km] southeast) in 1847. At first called Village of Michigan, in 1849 it assumed the name of the township in which it was located. (Lansing township was named for Lansing, N.Y.) The Michigan State Capitol (erected 1872–78) stands in a 10-acre (4-hectare) park in the centre of the city the capitol underwent extensive restoration in 1989–92. Connected by plank road to Detroit in 1852 and to out-of-state areas by railroad in the 1870s, the city grew industrially after 1887 with the establishment of several vehicle manufacturers, most notably the Olds Motor Works (in 1899) and the Reo Motor Car Company (in 1904) by Ransom Eli Olds it is now a major automobile production centre and also produces a wide range of other manufactures (including textiles, auto parts, metal products, and glass).

Lansing Community College (1957) is located there, as are a number of museums dedicated to the history of Michigan and of the transportation industry. A riverfront greenbelt and system of trails along the Grand River offer recreational opportunities within the city Lake Lansing (7 miles [11 km] northeast) and Fitzgerald Park (10 miles [16 km] west) are popular destinations in the surrounding area. Adjacent East Lansing is the home of Michigan State University (1855). Lansing is the birthplace of journalist and essayist Ray Stannard Baker, botanist David Grandison Fairchild, basketball star Magic Johnson, and biologist A.D. Hershey it was also the boyhood home of Malcolm X. Inc. city, 1859. Pop. (2000) 119,128 Lansing–East Lansing Metro Area, 447,728 (2010) 114,297 Lansing–East Lansing Metro Area, 464,036.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Kenneth Pletcher, Senior Editor.

History of Lansing

Like numerous villages throughout Ashe County, Lansing began as a small trading center for the local agrarian population. It is not known where the name Lansing originated, but the name was used in the establishment of a post office on August 24, 1882. William Harrison Perkins was the community's first postmaster. A prominent local citizen, Harrison Perkins owned a large farm and operated a store on his property north of present-day Lansing. Perkins was postmaster for nearly twenty years and also served as County Commissioner. He is thought to have owned much of the land that is now Lansing.[1]

Lansing was one of the county's many modestly-sized rural communities in 1896. According to Branson's North Carolina Business Directory, its population was 40, Harrison Perkins' General Store was the only business, and a school is listed with teachers W.H. and Sherman Graybeal. The original Lansing School was built c. 1889 in association with the Graybeal Methodist Church in Lansing, and served a dual purpose as both church and school. [2]

The Virginia-Carolina Railroad (later owned by Norfolk & Western) was constructed through Ashe County in 1914 to 1916 and had a significant impact on the growth of Lansing. The tracks ran roughly north-south through Lansing, parallel to South Big Horse Creek Road / NC Highway 194. A railroad schedule from May 1915 shows that Lansing did not have a depot or a regular stop. The stops listed skip from Tuckerdale, north of Lansing, to West Jefferson, several miles to the south. However, by September 1916, the Lansing Depot was a regular stop. The train departed Lansing at 10:33 a.m. on its southbound run to Elkland (now Todd) and again at 2:10 that afternoon on its return northward to Abingdon, Virginia. The one-story frame depot was located across the street from the 9300 Block of NC Highway 194, at a site near where the Volunteer Fire Department now stands. The depot was typical of those built all along the “Virginia Creeper” line and is said to have been brought to Lansing in pieces from Virginia in 1920. Prior to this, train tickets were sold from an old box car located on the siding near the future site of the depot. The siding at Lansing accommodated seven cars. In 1926, hardware store owner Henry Gentry became the depot agent it is not known who operated the depot before this time. Lester Duncan and Carl Carter were subsequent agents. The depot was demolished in 1982.[3]

With the construction of the railroad, industries based on the export of the county's natural resources sprang up. Small-scale mining of iron ore was conducted in the Lansing area and the shipment of the ore from the Lansing Depot contributed to the town's early growth. There were three iron veins in the county: the Ballou, or River Belt Red Hill/Piney Creek and the Titaniferous/McCarty vein. The latter, with its outcroppings on Grassy, Helton and Horse Creeks was the most likely source for the Lansing shipments. Ore shipment had slowed by 1922.[4]

The timber industry was even more important to the economy of Lansing and the county in general. Lumber and pulpwood, and probably tan bark, were all shipped from Lansing to processing plants that were located across Southwest Virginia and beyond. These products were the primary impetus for the construction of the railroad into Ashe County and created an economic boom for much of the 1910s and 1920s. The significance of the potential wealth associated with the timber industry is illustrated by the disagreement between the communities of Berlin (now Bina), Lansing, and Warrensville about the location of new depots in 1915. “Berlin timber resources [have] already furnished and will continue to furnish largely the lumber for the building at both Lansing and Warrensville,” wrote an angry Berliner in a 1915 editorial.[5] Despite the tense feelings at the time, the timber industry was not long lasting. Ashe County historian Arthur Fletcher noted that there was no indication that many of the newly created depot towns in Ashe County “benefited in the long run except West Jefferson and perhaps Smethport and Lansing.” Depots were generally located “where they could serve the sawmill men,” he added.[6]

The small community of Lansing blossomed into a busy town during the late 1910s and early 1920s. The Bank of Lansing (9278 NC Hwy. 194) was incorporated in March 1916 with J. W. Graybeal, J. F. Miller, S. A. Hartsoe, T. A. Farmer, Thomas J. Jones, E. L. Childers, J. D. Childers, J. H. Gentry, Monroe Welch, and E. H. Higginbottom as stockholders. Daniel Joines was the first president and E. H. Higginbottom the first cashier. It is said that this bank was at one time more wealthy than the bank in Jefferson. In 1919, the Ashe County Board of Commissioners discontinued the County Treasurer’s office position, selecting the Bank of Lansing to handle government funds as the County Finance Office. A bank advertisement from 1921, notes that D. H. Joines was president, J. F. Miller served as vice president, and G. E. Ashley was cashier. The advertisement went on to say: “We have come through the hard times in splendid condition. Our business methods are safe, sound, and conservative. We'll give you courteous treatment and handle your account in a correct and business like way. Come in and let us talk it over.” Correspondent J. R. Weaver gave the bank a positive review in a 1920 Ashe Recorder, noting that it was “forging to the front,” and that as cashier, Ashley “makes things hum.” The bank failed during the Great Depression and was liquidated by the Bank of Ashe.[7]

The economic boom culminated with the incorporation of the Town of Lansing on May 26, 1928. A picture of the bustling town during the busy 1925 to 1935 period can be had by listing many of the known businesses operating at this time. A large frame hotel served travelers including sales people and timber industry employees. The agriculture-related industries that would become important to the town and the county generally after the timber boom can be seen with the operation of a cheese plant in Lansing. Serving the town's population and the outlying farm population were a number of stores including Charlie Welch's clothing store at 9375 NC Hwy. 194, Young and Hudler's Hardware store (9288 NC Hwy. 194), Oscar Blevins' general store, and a hardware store at 9270 NC Hwy. 194. As a railroad town, Lansing was a distribution point for general stores throughout this part of the county as shown by the presence of the wholesale firm of Lansing Grocery Company. Bank Cashier G. E. Ashley owned stock in Lansing Grocery until he sold his interest to Lester M. Sturgill in 1924. Sturgill operated a wholesale grocery firm in Lansing until 1938. Similarly, Byron (Byrum) Graybeal (postmaster from 1925 through 1933) was also a dealer in produce, hides, and herbs, buying local goods for shipment to large warehouses outside the county. In addition, he did accounting and was a notary. His last place of business was located at 9383-9387 NC Hwy. 194. Service businesses included a coffin shop operated by a blind man named Elbert McCarter, The Bank of Lansing, a restaurant, a Shell Service Station built by Lester Sturgill at 9414 NC Hwy. 194 in about 1930 (the station was later operated by Clarence Parsons), and French Young's Barber Shop, which opened at 9360 NC Hwy. 194 by 1924. Young's shop operated until 1973 and sold magazines, comic books, sodas, fishing licenses and gear, and drug store items. Mrs. Young operated a seamstress business in the shop as well. Health-care was also available in Lansing provided by dentist Edgar Barr between 1927 and 1930. Physicians in Lansing were Dr. Thomas Jones, who lived just north of town (109 Baldwin Jones Road) and later his son, Dr. Thomas Lester Jones who lived at 154 Baldwin Jones Road.[8]

The influx of new residents to Lansing in the 1920s were accommodated at the large frame hotel (no longer extant), as boarders in private homes, and in several boarding houses that operated during this period. Mr. and Mrs. Charles E. Welch, for example, were noted in the 1920 Ashe Recorder as “keeping house now,” though they had previously boarded with “Mr. Gentry,” probably J. H. Gentry. The Welches “. seemed to be a very happy couple.”[9] The circa 1920 boarding house at 190 E Street is a large hip-roof dwelling that accommodated five bedrooms on the second floor. The house was built by Bob Miller who sold it to his sister and brother-in-law, Ray and Ella Mae Clark.[10] Several single-family dwellings, including modest bungalows and single-pile side-gable houses, were also built during the 1920s and 1930s. Photographs of Lansing from the 1920s show a number of houses many similar to the hip-roof bungalow located at 274 A Street, perched on the hillsides above the commercial area. Also reflecting the population growth was the expansion of the Lansing School to a three-teacher school in the 1920s and then its relocation to an even larger facility with the construction of a stone building built by the WPA in 1937 (NR, 2008).

Amid the construction of new dwellings and businesses and the bustle of the depot, Lansing was still very much a rural place during the first thirty-five years of the twentieth century and townspeople were plagued by concerns such as inadequate roadways. “We are now having some of the worst weather [of] all,” wrote J. R. Weaver in 1920. “It is almost impossible to get to this place, but work is being pushed as fast as possible on the new road leading from here up Horse Creek. At the present rate we hope to see it completed sometime during the next decade,” he quipped. Weaver went on to write about the large new hay baler purchased by local landowner J. H. Gentry, showing that the surrounding agricultural neighborhood was still an important part of Lansing.[11]
The economic crash of the Great Depression was coupled in Ashe County with the depletion of timber resources after the onset of the chestnut blight.[12] In addition to the timber industry's decline, the livestock market, an important source of income in the county, also suffered decline. These economic realities were evidenced in the reduction of railroad service in the county (operations stopped south of West Jefferson) and the closure of businesses including the Bank of Lansing.

Economic recovery in Lansing was slowed by a disastrous fire on June 18, 1936. It began in the Weaver Cafe (former Young and Hudler Hardware store building, 9288 NC Hwy. 194) and destroyed much of the town's commercial area despite the bucket brigade formed by residents after Charley Campbell's chickens sounded an early-morning alarm.[13] It was not until the 1950s that the organization of a volunteer fire department would occur. A used fire truck was purchased and brought to Lansing from Florida. This fire department is thought to have been the second organized in Ashe County. The Flood of 1940 also did a great deal of damage to the town's low-lying commercial area. Victor Clark's furniture store (9306 NC Hwy. 194) was hard hit and the Clark family temporarily relocated to Washington, D. C. where better war-time wages were available after 1941.[14]

The postwar period in Lansing saw the continuation of modest commercial activity in town. Some of the enterprises included the hardware store operated by Victor Clark from 1946 until 1956. Clark built the store building at 9306 NC Hwy. 194 after the store's original quarters were destroyed in the 1936 fire. Down the street at 9294 NC Hwy. 194, Ray Blevins continued his father's (Oscar Blevins) hardware business from about 1946 through 1966 and also incorporated a five and dime store business. Blevins also served as Lansing's mayor in the 1950s.[15] Rose Harrison operated a restaurant and boarding house nearby, beginning about 1941. Several teachers lived and took their meals there and Dr. Bud Jones is said to have eaten there every day. Roey and Eura Hart built their two-story concrete block grocery store building at 9305 NC Hwy. 194 in 1945. Operated by Eura Hart into the 1990s, the Hart Store was a community center. Lansing native Mauvine Shepherd recalls: “You could have a cola and a snack and stay as long as you would like. She was always open after supper at 7 o'clock in the winter time. Everybody seemed to have their own special place to sit and if you did not show up good or bad you gave a report why you were not there the night before.”[16]

The commercial center in Lansing continued to grow with its service to the surrounding agricultural community. The beef and dairy cattle farmers of Ashe County thrived in the postwar period. Four buildings in Lansing represent the important role the town played in Ashe County's agrarian economy: the Lansing Grocery and Milling Company buildings at 126-128 and 130-132 South Big Horse Creek Road, the Lansing Mill Company's feed and grist mill at 185 South Big Horse Creek Road, and the Coble Dairy Plant at 226 South Big Horse Creek Road.

Raymond and Preston Powers opened the Lansing Mill Company about 1940 and operated it in partnership with B. and O. Grocery before the 1950s when it was sold to Walter Osborne and Howard Reeves. The mill produced cornmeal and feed for livestock. Osborne and Reeves successfully operated the business for many years with staff member Grant Baldwin who made feed and fertilizer deliveries. Built in c. 1940 and c. 1950 respectively, the Lansing Grocery and Milling Company buildings at 126-128 and 130-132 South Big Horse Creek Road were the commercial arm of the business and stocked groceries, dry goods, and clothes as well as seed, fertilizer, and feed. The store was open from 6:00 am to 9:00 pm six days a week, with owners Walter Osborne and Howard Reeves working overlapping schedules. Reeves, who had begun his career by working in the mill, opened. Osborne, who learned the mercantile business from Oscar Blevins, closed. Reeves and Osborne operated the company until about 1980.[17]
Coble Dairies opened its milk collection plant in Lansing in 1942. Early each morning, milk trucks drove through the countryside collecting cans of milk from farms to be delivered to the plant. The milk cans were emptied, washed and reloaded onto the trucks. Chilled milk from the plant was hauled by tank trucks to a processing plant in Lexington, North Carolina more than one hundred miles southeast of Lansing. The tanker drivers were well-known for their ability to negotiate the narrow winding roads and one-lane bridges that led out of Lansing at alarming speeds. The plant shipped 45,000 to 60,000 pounds of milk each day for twenty-five years (two tanker loads a day at its peak) it closed in 1967.[18]

By 1960, the population of Lansing, 278 people, was well behind that of West Jefferson at 1,000, and Jefferson, at 814, but ahead of the smaller towns of Warrensville, at 116 and Todd, at 32.[19] The discontinuance of railroad passenger service by Norfolk & Western in the 1960s and the cessation of all service in 1977 marked significant changes in the town's economy during the late twentieth century. As roadways were improved and the county's population became increasingly mobile via automobile shoppers were able to travel to larger towns bringing about the closure of many local stores.[20]

Lansing has almost always maintained a restaurant and a grocery store, however, and within the last five years, a number of new businesses that cater to tourists and summer residents have begun to populate the old commercial buildings. A creek-front park with paved walking and biking trails are among the recent improvements. Revitalization efforts include the annual Ola Belle Reed Homecoming bluegrass festival at the new park it honors a well-known local musician.


Col. Roy C. Vandercook, the first commanding officer of the Michigan State Troops. Harley-Davidson motorcycles replaced horses as the standard vehicle for highway patrol in 1924. A trooper outside the Michigan State Police Headquarters in East Lansing in 1940. The first comprehensive history book was published by Commissioner Olander in 1942 in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Michigan State Police. In 1954, the patrol car color changed from black to blue, which remains the standard today. The Michigan State Police celebrated their 75th anniversary in 1992.


The first recorded person of European descent to travel through the area that is now Lansing was British fur trader Hugh Heward and his French-Canadian team on April 24, 1790 while canoeing the Grand River. [10] [11] The land that was to become Lansing was surveyed as "Township 4 North Range 2 West" in February 1827 in what was then dense forest. It was the last of the county's townships to be surveyed, and the land was not offered for sale until October 1830. [12] There would be no roads to this area for decades to come.

In the winter of 1835 and early 1836, two brothers from New York plotted the area now known as REO Town just south of downtown Lansing and named it "Biddle City". This land lay in a floodplain and was underwater during the majority of the year. Nevertheless, the brothers went back to Lansing, New York, to sell plots for the town that did not exist. They told the New Yorkers this new "city" had an area of 65 blocks, a church and a public and academic square. 16 men bought plots in the nonexistent city, and upon reaching the area later that year found they had been scammed. Many in the group, too disappointed to stay, ended up settling around what is now metropolitan Lansing.

The settlement of fewer than 20 people would remain dormant until the winter of 1847 when the state constitution required the capital be moved from Detroit to a more central and safer location in the state's interior many were concerned about Detroit's proximity to British-controlled Canada, which had captured Detroit in the War of 1812. The United States had recaptured the city in 1813, but these events led to the dire need to have the center of government relocate from hostile British territory. There was also concern with Detroit's strong influence over Michigan politics, being the state's largest city as well as the capital city. [13]

During the multi-day session to determine a new location for the state capital, many cities, including Ann Arbor, Marshall, and Jackson, lobbied hard to win this designation. [14] Unable to publicly reach a consensus because of constant political wrangling, the Michigan House of Representatives privately chose the Township of Lansing out of frustration. When announced, many present openly laughed that such an insignificant settlement was now Michigan's capital. Two months later, Governor William L. Greenly signed into law the act of the legislature making Lansing Township the state capital. [13]

With the announcement that Lansing Township had been made the capital, the small village quickly transformed into the seat of state government. Within months after it became the capital city, individual settlements began to develop along three key points along the Grand River in the township: [13]

  • "Lower Village/Town", where present-day Old Town stands, was the oldest of the three villages. It was home to the first house built in Lansing in 1843 by pioneer James Seymour and his family. Lower Town began to develop in 1847 with the completion of the Franklin Avenue (now Grand River Avenue) covered bridge over the Grand River. [15]
  • "Upper Village/Town", where present-day REO Town stands at the confluence of the Grand River and the Red Cedar River. It began to take off in 1847 when the Main Street Bridge was constructed over the Grand River. This village's focal point was the Benton House, a 4-story hotel, which opened in 1848. It was the first brick building in Lansing and was later razed in 1900. [15]

The collection of original settlements ("Upper Town", "Lower Town" and "Middle Town") had for some years been collectively referred to as the "Village of Michigan". [16] On February 16, 1842, Alaiedon township was split into the townships of Lansing, Delhi and Meridian (originally suggested as "Genoa") based on a petition submitted in December 1841 by Henry North, Roswell Everett and Zalmon Holmes. Henry North proposed the name "Lansing" for the township at the request of his father, who wanted it named after their old town of Lansing, New York. [14]

On April 3, 1848, the settlement, having grown to nearly 3,000 and encompassing about seven square miles (18 km 2 ) in area, was incorporated as a city, carving off a section of seven square miles from Lansing Township. The municipal government of the City of Lansing was initially shared with that of Lansing Township. The boundaries of the original city were Douglas Avenue to the north, Wood and Regent streets to the east, Mount Hope Avenue to the south, and Jenison Avenue to the west. These boundaries would remain until 1916. Lansing began to grow steadily over the next two decades with the completion of the railroads through the city, a plank road, and the completion of the current capitol building in 1878.

Most of what is known as Lansing today is the result of the city becoming an industrial powerhouse which began with the founding of Olds Motor Vehicle Company in August 1897. The company went through many changes, including a buyout, between its founding to 1905 when founder Ransom E. Olds started his new REO Motor Car Company, which would last in Lansing for another 70 years. Olds would be joined by the less successful Clarkmobile around 1903. [17] Over the next decades, the city would be transformed into a major American industrial center for the manufacturing of automobiles and parts, among other industries. The city also continued to grow in area. By 1956, the city had grown to 15 square miles (39 km 2 ), and doubled in size over the next decade to its current size of roughly 33 square miles (85 km 2 ). [18]

Today, the city's economy is diversified among government service, healthcare, manufacturing, insurance, banking, and education.

Notable events Edit

Anti-slavery movement Edit

In the late 1840's to early 1850's, the citizens of Lansing were unified against slavery, and the city became a secondary stop on the Underground Railroad, as one of the last steps of an escape route that led through Battle Creek, Schoolcraft and Cassopolis. From Lansing, the route led to Durand, and then to either Port Huron or Detroit. [19] [20]

Major Fires Edit

The Kerns Hotel fire on December 11, 1934 was the deadliest in the city's history. Perhaps thirty-four people died in the fire, although the hotel register was also destroyed making an exact count impossible.

On February 8, 1951, the Elliott-Larsen Building was intentionally set on fire by a state office employee. The following morning, the seventh floor collapsed down to the next level, which destroyed a large number of state historical records. [21]

Elephant incident Edit

On September 26, 1963, a 12-year-old, 3,000-pound female dancing elephant named Rajje (alternately reported as Raji and Little Rajjee, among other variations) rebelled against her trainer during a performance in a shopping-center circus near what was then Logan Street and Holmes Road in Lansing, and escaped into the streets, aggravated by the frenzied pursuit of nearly 4,000 local residents. The incident ended with the shooting of the elephant by Lansing police. [22] [23] Provoked by the growing crowd, Rajje's rampage took her through the men's wear, sporting goods and gift departments of a local Arlan's discount store before leading police on a two-mile chase in which she knocked down and injured a 67-year-old man, tried to move a car, and caused thousands of dollars in damage before being killed.

Life Magazine quoted Rajje's trainer, William Pratt, as shouting at the scene, "Damn these people [. ] They wouldn't leave her alone." [22]

The incident was widely reported, including a photospread in Life. [22] While the Lansing State Journal coverage stressed the danger of the incident, [24] the Detroit Free Press noted that witnesses cried out "Murderers! Murderers!" as police fired eight shots. [25]

Author Nelson Algren cites the injustice and sad end of the pursuit of "Raji, the Pixie-Eared Elephant" in continuity with the ambush of Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow in his introduction to a 1968 biography of the outlaws. [26] Then teenage Lansing residents who had goaded the elephant on recalled the incident with sober regret in a local newspaper retrospective in 2011. [24]

Lansing is the centerpiece of a region of Michigan known as Mid-Michigan or Central Michigan.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 36.68 square miles (95.00 km 2 ), of which 36.05 square miles (93.37 km 2 ) is land and 0.63 square miles (1.63 km 2 ) is water. [27] This figure includes two 425 Agreements with Alaiedon Township and Meridian Township, and the four 425 Agreements with Delta Township since 2000.

Since the 2010 Census, the city has entered into two additional 425 Agreements. The first agreement consisted of the temporary transfer of 1,888.2 acres of Lansing Capital Region International Airport to the city from DeWitt Township in 2011. [28] The second agreement consisted of the temporary transfer of 41 acres (17 ha) in Alaiedon Township for the expansion of the headquarters of Jackson National Life Insurance Company in 2013 bringing the area either fully or conditionally under control of the city to 39.69 square miles (102.80 km 2 ). [28]

Under Michigan law, 425 Agreements are only temporary land sharing agreements and do not count as official annexations. The Census Bureau, however, for statistical purposes does count these as annexations. Not counting the temporary 425 Agreements, Lansing administers 34.1 square miles (88 km 2 ) total.

Lansing is located in the south-central part of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan, where the Grand River meets the Red Cedar River. The city occupies most of what had formerly been part of Lansing Charter Township. It has also annexed adjacent tracts of land in Delta Charter Township and Windsor Township in Eaton County to the west, Delhi Charter Township in Ingham County to the south, and in DeWitt Charter Township in Clinton County to the north. The city also controls three non-contiguous tracts of land through 425 Agreements (conditional land transfer agreements) with Meridian Charter Township, Delta Charter Township, and Alaiedon Township in Ingham County to the southeast.

Lansing elevations range between 890 feet (271 m) above sea level on the far south side of Lansing along Northrup Street near the Cedar Street intersection, to 833 feet (254 m) to 805.5 feet (246 m) above sea level along the Grand River.

The Grand River, the largest river in Michigan, flows through downtown Lansing, and the Red Cedar River, a tributary of the Grand, flows through the campus of Michigan State University to its confluence with the Grand in Lansing. Sycamore Creek, a tributary of the Red Cedar, flows northward through the southeastern part of the city. [29] There are two lakes in the area, Park Lake and Lake Lansing, both northeast of the city. Lake Lansing is approximately 500 acres (2.0 km 2 ) in size and is a summer favorite for swimmers, boaters, and fishermen. Michigan State University Sailing Club and the Lansing Sailing Club are located on Lake Lansing, where sailing regattas are hosted throughout the summer.

The City of Lansing operates a total of 3.55 square miles (9.2 km 2 ) of parkland, of which 2.80 square miles (7.3 km 2 ) is parkland, 0.43 square miles (1.1 km 2 ) are golflands, and 0.31 square miles (0.80 km 2 ) are cemetery lands. [30] However, this figure includes the Waverly Hills Golf Course and adjacent Michigan Avenue Park, whose 0.18 square miles (0.47 km 2 ) are located within neighboring Lansing Township, but operated by the City of Lansing, and does not include the 0.18 square miles (0.47 km 2 ) of the combined Hawk Island County Park and adjacent Soldan Dog Park operated by Ingham County within the city of Lansing. [31] All together then, 3.55 square miles (9.2 km 2 ) of the city (or approximately 10%) is publicly administered open space.

Climate Edit

Lansing has a Midwestern humid continental climate (Köppen Dfb/Dfa) that is influenced by the Great Lakes, and is part of USDA Hardiness zone 5b. [32] Winters are cold with moderate to heavy snowfall, while summers are very warm and humid. The monthly daily average temperature in July is 71.5 °F (21.9 °C), while the same figure for January is 23.4 °F (−4.8 °C) the annual mean is 48.21 °F (9.01 °C). On average, temperatures reach or exceed 90 °F (32.2 °C) on 8.8 days of the year and drop to or below 0 °F (−17.8 °C) on 10.5 nights. [33] Precipitation is generally greatest during summer but still frequent and significant in winter. Snowfall, which normally occurs from November to April, averages 51.1 inches (130 cm) per season, significantly less than areas to the west such as Grand Rapids as Lansing is relatively immune to lake-effect snows seasonal snowfall has historically ranged from 16.6 in (42 cm) in 1863−64 to 97.2 in (247 cm) in 1880−81. The highest and lowest officially recorded temperatures were 103 °F (39 °C) on July 6, 2012, [33] and −37 °F (−38 °C) on February 2, 1868, [34] with the last −20 °F (−29 °C) or colder reading occurred on February 27, 1994 the record low maximum is −4 °F (−20 °C) on January 22, 1883, while, conversely, the record high minimum is 78 °F (26 °C) on August 1, 2006 and July 18, 1942. [33] Freezing temperatures in June are exceedingly rare and have not occurred in July or August since the 19th century on average, they arrive on October 4 and depart on May 7, allowing a growing season of 149 days. The average window for measurable snow (≥0.1 in or 0.25 cm) is November 4 thru April 6.

Climate data for Lansing, Michigan (Capital Region Int'l), 1991−2020 normals, extremes 1863−present [a]
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Record high °F (°C) 66
Mean maximum °F (°C) 52
Average high °F (°C) 30.6
Daily mean °F (°C) 23.9
Average low °F (°C) 17.2
Mean minimum °F (°C) −6
Record low °F (°C) −29
Average precipitation inches (mm) 2.06
Average snowfall inches (cm) 14.3
Average precipitation days (≥ 0.01 in) 13.9 10.7 10.9 12.5 12.5 10.5 9.1 10.1 10.1 11.6 12.3 13.5 137.7
Average snowy days (≥ 0.1 in) 11.9 10.0 4.8 1.9 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.2 3.9 9.4 42.1
Average relative humidity (%) 78.8 76.2 73.3 67.6 66.7 69.0 71.0 74.9 77.5 76.1 78.6 81.1 74.2
Mean monthly sunshine hours 118.2 140.1 187.6 218.7 278.6 296.2 318.5 278.1 217.6 163.8 92.4 82.1 2,391.9
Percent possible sunshine 40 47 51 54 61 65 69 65 58 48 32 29 54
Source: NOAA (relative humidity and sun 1961−1990) [33] [35] [36]

The city's downtown is dominated by state government buildings, especially the State Capitol but downtown has also experienced recent growth in new restaurants, retail stores and residential developments. Downtown Lansing has a historic city market that is one of the oldest continuously operating farmers' markets in the United States. [37] Upriver and north of downtown is historic Old Town Lansing with many architecturally significant buildings dating to the mid-19th century. [38] Directly south of downtown on the other side of I-496 along Washington Avenue lies "REO Town", the birthplace of the automobile in the United States, is where Ransom Eli Olds built factories along Washington Avenue. Ransom Eli Olds' home, which once overlooked the factories along Washington Avenue, was displaced by I-496.

Lansing is generally divided into four sections: the Eastside, Westside, Northwestside, and Southside. Each section contains a diverse array of neighborhoods. The Eastside, located east of the Grand River and north of the Red Cedar River, is the most ethnically diverse side of Lansing, with foreign-born citizens making up more of its population than any other side in the city. [39] The Eastside's commercial districts are located mainly along Michigan Avenue, and to a lesser extent along Kalamazoo Street. It is anchored by Frandor Shopping Center on the very eastern edge of the eastside.

The Westside, roughly located north, west, and south of the Grand River as it curves through the city, is sometimes regarded as the city's most socio-economically diverse section. This side also contains Lansing's downtown area, though this neighborhood is often included as an area all its own. Outside downtown, this side is largely a collection of residential neighborhoods and is served by only one other commercial area along Saginaw Street. However, it also includes a small part of the Old Town Commercial Association.

The Northwestside, generally located north of the Grand River, with the city limits defining its north and western borders, is physically the smallest side of the city. This part of the city includes moderate-density residential areas and some green areas. North of Grand River Avenue, the main street of the side, lie warehouses and light industrial areas served by a major rail line that runs through Lansing. The most notable landmark of this side is Lansing's airport: Capital Region International Airport.

The Southside, usually described as the neighborhoods located south of the Grand and Red Cedar rivers and the I-496 freeway, is physically the largest and most populous side of the city. The area is largely residential in nature (south of Mount Hope Road near the northern edge) and is served by numerous commercial strips along Cedar Street, Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, Pennsylvania Avenue, and Waverly Road, which run north/south. The large Edgewood District is located in the southernmost part of the Southside and is sometimes referred to as South Lansing. Though it is the largest area of the city by both physical size and population, it has often been regarded by Southside citizens as Lansing's most overlooked and forgotten area, as most of Lansing's attention in recent decades has been put into the revitalization of the city's historic core located mostly on small parts of both the East and Westside.

The middle of the Southside—South-Central Lansing—contains the Old Everett Area. This location once contained the Everett School District and was annexed into the city in 1948. [40]

Unincorporated areas adjacent to Lansing include parts of Lansing Charter Township, such as the unincorporated community of Edgemont Park, as well as parts of Delta Charter Township, such as the unincorporated community of Waverly. Though they are not part of the City of Lansing, these unincorporated communities often use Lansing mailing addresses. [41]

Districts Edit

  • Cherry Hill
  • Churchill Downs [42]
  • Eastside [43]
  • Edgewood
  • Gier Park
  • Hosmer
  • Moores Park
  • Museum District
  • Old Everett [44]
  • Stadium District
  • Walnut
  • Washington Square
  • Westside [45]
Historical population
Census Pop.
18603,074 136.6%
18705,241 70.5%
18808,319 58.7%
189013,102 57.5%
190016,485 25.8%
191031,229 89.4%
192057,327 83.6%
193078,397 36.8%
194078,753 0.5%
195092,129 17.0%
1960107,807 17.0%
1970131,403 21.9%
1980130,414 −0.8%
1990127,321 −2.4%
2000119,128 −6.4%
2010114,297 −4.1%
2019 (est.)118,210 [3] 3.4%
U.S. Decennial Census [46]

2010 census Edit

As of the census [4] of 2010, there were 114,297 people, 48,450 households, and 26,234 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,174.9 per square mile (1,226.3/km 2 ). There were 54,181 housing units at an average density of 1,505.0 per square mile (581.3/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the city was 61.2% White (55.5% Non-Hispanic White), 23.7% African American, 0.8% Native American, 3.7% Asian, 0.04% Pacific Islander, 4.3% from other races, and 6.2% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 12.5% of the population. Foreign-born residents made up 8.3% of the population.

The median age in the city was 32.2 years. 24.2% of residents were under the age of 18 12.3% were between the ages of 18 and 24 30.2% were from 25 to 44 23.8% were from 45 to 64 and 9.7% were 65 years of age or older. The gender makeup of the city was 48.4% male and 51.6% female. [2]

2000 census Edit

As of the census [4] of 2000, there were 119,128 people, 49,505 households, and 28,366 families residing in the city. The population density was 3,399.0 per square mile (1,312.3/km 2 ). There were 53,159 housing units at an average density of 1,516.8/sq mi (585.6/km 2 ). The racial makeup of the city was 65.28% White (61.4% non-Hispanic White), 21.91% African American, 0.80% Native American, 2.83% Asian, 0.05% Pacific Islander, 4.54% from other races, and 4.60% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 10.0% of the population. The city's foreign-born population stood at 5.9%.

As of 2000, the city's population rose by 32,293 (27%) to 151,421 during the day due to the influx of workers. [47]

There were 49,505 households, out of which 30.0% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 35.8% were married couples living together, 17.0% had a female householder with no husband present, and 42.7% were non-families. 33.2% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.1% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.39 and the average family size was 3.08.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.8% under the age of 18, 11.4% from 18 to 24, 32.7% from 25 to 44, 19.3% from 45 to 64, and 9.7% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 92.3 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 87.9 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $34,833, and the median income for a family was $41,283. Males had a median income of $32,648 versus $27,051 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,924. About 13.2% of families and 16.9% of the population were below the poverty line, including 23.2% of those under age 18 and 9.0% of those age 65 or over.

Immigration and refugee resettlement Edit

The Brookings Institution has ranked Greater Lansing among the top 10 "medium-sized metropolitan areas" in the United States for refugee resettlement, with 5,369 refugees resettled from 1983 to 2004. [48] St. Vincent Catholic Charities and Lutheran Social Services handle the adult and unaccompanied minor resettlement processes, respectively, while other organizations, such as the Refugee Development Center, focus on providing educational and social support services to refugees in the Lansing area. [49] Nearby Michigan State University provides a source of volunteers for many of these programs. [50] [51]

As of 2005 [update] , the Lansing area has about 2,000 Arab Americans, mostly second-generation Christian Lebanese Americans as well as some Palestinian Americans. [52]

The city is also home to a large number of temporary foreign residents enrolled as international students at Lansing Community College and nearby Michigan State University, with the city's visitors bureau specifically promoting Mandarin-language video tours of Lansing, touting the "more than 6,000" Chinese students enrolled at MSU. [53] The Lansing School District offers language immersion programs for its students in both Spanish and Chinese. [54]

Lansing is administered under a mayor–council government, more specifically a strong mayor form in which the mayor is the city's chief executive officer. [55] The mayor is obligated to appoint department heads (subject to council approval), and draft and administer a city budget among other responsibilities. The mayor may also veto legislation from council, though the veto can be overridden by an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the council. [55] The mayor and city clerk are elected at-large every four years.

The city council is the legislative body of the city and consists of eight members. Four members are elected from four single-member districts using the first-past-the-post method in the city's wards, and four members are elected at-large using the block voting method. Members of the council serve staggered four-year terms. [56] Half the council is up for election every two years, including two ward seats and two at-large seats. [57] At its first meeting of the year, the council chooses from amongst its members a president and vice president. The president is the council's presiding officer, and also chooses the chairs of council committees. [55] In the absence of the president and vice president, the city clerk chairs the council.

The city largely supports the Democratic Party. It has not had a Republican mayor in office since 1993 when then-Democratic state representative David Hollister defeated incumbent Mayor Jim Crawford, who had formerly served as a Republican member on the Ingham County Board of Commissioners. However, all city elections are held on an officially nonpartisan basis. [55]

Since given the ability to do so by the state in 1964, the city has levied an income tax of 1 percent on residents. 0.5 percent on non-residents, and 1.0 percent on corporations. [58] [59]

State and federal representation Edit

Lansing is currently split between three congressional districts. Most of the city lies within the boundaries of Michigan's 8th congressional district, which is represented by Democratic congresswoman Elissa Slotkin, who was elected in the 2018 midterm election. The small portion of the city that extends into Eaton County is located in Michigan's 7th congressional district, which has been represented by Republican congressman Tim Walberg since 2011. The small portion of the city that extends into Clinton County is located in Michigan's 4th congressional district, which has been represented by Republican congressman John Moolenaar since 2015.

At the state level, most of Lansing is located in the 23rd district of the Michigan Senate, which has been represented by Democratic state senator Curtis Hertel Jr. since 2015. The small portions of the city that extend into Eaton County and Clinton County is located in the 24th district of the Michigan Senate, are currently represented by Republican state senator Tom Barrett. The city lies in the 67th, 68th, 71st, and 93rd districts of the Michigan State House of Representatives, represented by state representatives Kara Hope (D-67), Sarah Anthony (D-68), Angela Witwer (D-71), and Graham Filler (R-93).

Though Lansing is not the designated county seat, some Ingham County offices are located in downtown Lansing, including a branch office of the county clerk, the county personnel office, and some courtrooms.

Top City Employers
Source: Lansing Economic Area Partnership [60]
Rank Company/Organization #
1 State of Michigan 14,390
2 Michigan State University 10,253
3 Sparrow Health System 7,600
4 General Motors 4,549
5 Lansing Community College 3,144
6 McLaren Greater Lansing 3,000
7 Auto-Owners Insurance 2,578
8 Peckham 2,510
9 Jackson National Life 2,500
10 Dart Container 2,000
11 Meijer 1,500
12 Dean Transportation 800
13 Delta Dental 800
14 MSU Federal Credit Union 800
15 Michigan Farm Bureau 750

The Lansing metropolitan area's major industries are government, education, insurance, healthcare, and automobile manufacturing. Being the state capital, many state government workers reside in the area.

General Motors has offices and a hi-tech manufacturing facility in Lansing and several manufacturing facilities immediately outside the city, as well, in nearby Lansing and Delta townships. The Lansing area is headquarters to four major national insurance companies: Auto-Owners Insurance Company, Jackson National Life, the Accident Fund, and Michigan Millers Insurance Company. Other insurers based in Lansing include Farm Bureau Insurance of Michigan.

Locally owned and operated convenience store chain Quality Dairy is a significant presence in the Lansing market.

The recent decline of the auto industry in the region has increased the region's awareness of the importance of a strategy to foster the high-technology sector.

Early availability of high-speed Internet in 1996, as well as the MSU, Cooley Law School, and Lansing Community College student body population, fostered an intellectual environment for information technology companies to incubate. Lansing has a number of technology companies in the fields of information technology and biotechnology.

Healthcare Edit

Sparrow Hospital is a 740-bed hospital affiliated with Michigan State University and its College of Human Medicine and College of Osteopathic Medicine. In February 2009 it was announced that Sparrow and MSU formalized their partnership to increase research and faculty recruitment. [61] Sparrow Hospital is the Regional Center for pediatrics, cancer care, including radiation therapy, trauma care, neurological care, high-risk obstetrics and neonatal intensive care. The Sparrow Tower was finished January 2008 and includes but is not limited to: a dedicated pediatric emergency room (the only one in the region), the largest adult emergency room in the region, state-of-the-art operating rooms, a rooftop helipad, oncology center, heart and vascular center and orthopedic department. In addition, 4,500 deliveries are performed at Sparrow Hospital annually, rehabilitation, and emergency treatment is more than any other hospital in mid-Michigan. The Sparrow Health System Laboratory performs over 3 million tests per year, at various laboratory sites, which include four remote testing facilities and thirteen patient service centers. Sparrow Hospital is certified as a Level I Trauma Center by the American College of Surgeons. [62] In May 2009 Sparrow announced that it now has its own helicopter service based at its downtown Lansing hospital's new $2.5 million helipad. [63] The addition is expected to increase helicopter patient transport to the hospital from four a month to 400 a year.

McLaren–Greater Lansing Hospital is also a university-affiliated teaching hospital. Ingham enjoys a special affiliation in radiation oncology with the University of Michigan and Michigan State University McLaren–Greater Lansing is part of the Great Lakes Cancer Institute (GLCI). McLaren received five-star ratings for Coronary bypass surgery, Cardiac interventions, Treatment of heart attacks, Total knee replacement, Total hip replacement, Back and neck surgery, Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease care, Community-Acquired pneumonia care. [64]

Urban renewal and downtown redevelopment Edit

Several urban renewal projects by private developers are adding higher end apartments and condominiums to the Lansing market. The Arbaugh, a former department store across from Cooley Law School, was converted into apartments in 2005. Motor Wheel Lofts, a former industrial site, was converted into loft-style living spaces in mid-2006. [65] A combination retail and residential complex immediately south of Cooley Law School Stadium (formerly Oldsmobile Park) called "The Stadium District", was completed in 2007. [66] The Stadium District was redeveloped using a grant from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority through the Cool Cities Initiative. [67] [68]

In May 2006 the historically significant Mutual Building located on Capitol Avenue was purchased by The Christman Company to be renovated back to its original grandeur and used as the company's headquarters. [69] Additional downtown developments include the renovation of the historic Hollister Building and the expansion of the former Abrams Aerial Building. As of August 2008, an 18-story condominium high-rise called Capitol Club Tower was in the design phase with the adjacent parking structure having been approved by city council and purchased by the developer. The city market, in existence since 1909, was approved to be sold for a multi-building mixed-use development called MarketPlace, right next to the current market on the adjacent riverfront. The MarketPlace project was redeveloped along with BallPark North, another mixed-use development that will be immediately north of Oldsmobile Stadium. The new city market is just north of the Lansing Center, across the river from where the Accident Fund Insurance Company renovated the former (art deco) Ottawa Street Powerplant into their new headquarters. In addition to the renovation, Accident Fund Insurance Company built a modern addition to the north of the historic portion that is connected by an atrium for more office space, as well as a parking structure. In 2009, the restaurant Troppo began construction on a new 2-story building that will have an open-air patio on the roof facing the Capitol building. [70] Developer Eyde Co. announced plans on April 6, 2010, to renovate the historical and prominent Knapp's building in downtown Lansing for first floor retail, office space and apartments/condos on the top floor (5th) in a $22–24 million project. [71]

Retail Edit

The Lansing area has two major malls: Lansing Mall and Meridian Mall. Other major retail centers include Eastwood Towne Center and Frandor Shopping Center.


The first meeting of Methodists in the Lansing area was in the log cabin of Joab Page in 1845. Meetings were held for the next five years, with a permanent organization, a Methodist Class, being formed in 1850. Rev. Resin Sapp was called as the first pastor. The congregation met in “God’s Barn,” a converted barn in North Lansing purchased from James Seymour in 1848, and shared with the Presbyterians. In 1949, the Methodist group separated and a Methodist Class began to meet in what was called Middle Town at the new state legislative halls.

The story of the present Central United Methodist Church building begins on April 3, 1848, when the Michigan legislature passed “An Act granting to School Districts and Religious Denominations of Professing Christians, suitable grounds in the Town of (Lansing), owned by the State.” It was necessary for a church to make application within one year. The trustees of the First Methodist Episcopal Church made application on April 17, 1848, and a deed was executed by the payment of $1.00 on June 1, 1850 by the Secretary of State for Lot 6 in Block 96 as suitable and proper. The property was located on the Northwest corner of Washington and Ottawa Streets.

Central Methodist Episcopal Church was an outgrowth of the First Methodist Episcopal Church, which was located in an area “around a dam located in the present North Lansing.” On January 23, 1861, Central Methodist Episcopal Church was officially organized. After the organization, the property deeded to the First Methodist Episcopal Church was in turn deeded to the Central Methodist Episcopal Church. On February 21, 1861, the original contract was made for a church building at a cost of $3,465. The building was dedicated on August 4, 1863. On December 2, 1871, lot 7, to the rear of the church, was bought by the Ladies Aid Society for the purpose of building a parsonage.


Evidence that the church building was not large enough to meet the needs of a growing congregation is in Trustees minutes dating to 1867. On September 2, 1882, a new church lot, Lot 6 in Block 95 was purchased for $2,500. This lot is the current location on the Northwest corner of Capitol and Ottawa. The additional Lot 5 was obtained in a property swap with the Potter family. By March 20, 1888, eight designs had been submitted for the church, and the one submitted by A.B. Jennings of New York City was selected.

By the time the church building was under construction, Elijah E. Myers, architect of the State Capitol building, had been chosen as architect, Israel Gillett, a member of the church, was the supervising architect, and H.W. Coddington, of Kalamazoo, was the builder. Final cost of the building was $34,030, and the total cost, including stained glass windows, furnishings and lighting was $41,842.

The stone finally decided upon for the exterior was Ionia sandstone and red oak was used for the interior woodwork. The windows, pews, woodwork and chandeliers today are the originals. The architectural style was a modified Romanesque and the size of the building was 86’ wide and 127’ long. The sanctuary ceiling was 33’ high. The church building contains memorial stained glass windows which were donated by members of the congregation, principally in memory of loved ones.

On May 2, 1889, the cornerstone was laid by S.R. Fisk, president of Albion College, and in it was placed a history of the church by C.E. Thompson. The finished building was dedicated on April 20, 1890 by Bishop L.W. Joyce. One week earlier, circuit preacher Rev. Louis Coburn, preached the last service in the old church building. The Board of Trustees received many requests from groups wishing to use the new church building, soon June 20, 1890, the Trustees “moved that hereafter the use of the church shall not be granted for any purpose whatsoever outside of the customary purposes unless by action of the Board of Trustees.” The following are some groups who have used the church:

  • District WCTU convention
  • Ingham County Teachers Association
  • the Salvation Army
  • Independent Lecture Company
  • YWCA, high school graduation service in 1896
  • the Holiness League
  • State School Superintendents,
  • Federation of Women’s Clubs
  • the City Sunday School Association.

On what bases a fee was charged was not specified, although it appears that if an organization had an education or religious orientation no fee was charged.

The original church building contained the sanctuary, a vestibule, a classroom, a choir room and a study on the second floor. On the third floor was the gallery and a boardroom. On the first floor were five classrooms, the kitchen, the dining rooms, the library and a ladies’ reception room.

The church is listed in the National Register of Historic Places by the U.S. Department of Interior and is also a registered Michigan Historic Site.

In 1968, with the merger of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren, the name of Central was changed from Central Methodist Church to Central United Methodist Church.


In the Board minutes of October 29, 1895 appears: “the use of the church will be granted free of charge for a wedding when both parties are members in good standing in this church or if one of the persons is not a member of this church is a person of good moral character.”

In 1869 at the first church building, the Board approved building nine good horse sheds at a cost of $58.50.

Pews were rented in the first church building at least as early as 1869, when pew rentals were from $8 to $54 annually. That year a total of $1,971 was raised against estimated expenses of $2,000. Not all pews were rented according to a resolution passed in 1871 only two thirds of the pewswere to be rented, and every fifth pew was retained for strangers. In the new church building, the pews were numbered commencing at the “N.W. corner and proceeding from front to rear consecutively.” If a pew renter did not occupy his pew on any given Sunday by the time the first prayer was over, it was not held for him or his family. By 1898 it was found that the rental of pews was insufficient to meet expenses of the church and that rentals be supplemented by voluntary pledges and offerings. By 1902 the renting of pews was discontinued.


At the First Quarterly Conference held on November 8, 1921, the pastor, Dr. C. Jeffares McCombe introduced a proposal from Richard H. Scott, church member and an official with the Reo Motor Car Company: For several years Richard and Gertrude Scott had considered the church improperly equipped to do the work that it should do in the community, that the church should be operating to render a seven day weekly service to build up the physical and social life of the people as well as deal with the spirits and morals. Mr. Scott then placed before the conference, plans that he and architect Lee Black had been working on for many months. He proposed building a Community House on the lot just north of the church lots, acquired from Mr. Robert Holmes. The proposal was accepted. The basement of the new community house would be used for a large banquet hall, two auxiliary dining rooms and a tea room. There was to be a janitor’s apartment of five rooms. On the main floor were to be an auditorium, offices, Sunday School rooms and a lounge. The second floor was to be devoted largely to the use of the ladies and their church activities. In addition, there was to be a balcony to the auditorium and classrooms. The third floor was to be for the men, including a recreation hall to be used for basketball and other sports. Also on this floor was a room for the exclusive use of the Boy Scouts. Further, there was to be a two lane bowling alley. On a smaller fourth floor there was to be a dormitory to be outfitted for young men who found themselves stranded in the city and in need of lodging. The first‐floor fellowship hall was originally fitted with movie‐style seating, but these seats were removed in the 1950s. 90 of the original seats are on the second‐floor balcony.

The cornerstone of the Temple House was laid on Decoration Day, May 30, 1922. The Temple House was dedicated on May 6, 1923, with Dr. Marion LeRoy Burton, President of the University of Michigan giving the dedicatory address. The building was valued at $250,000.


Three other events occurred in the early 1920’s. First was the purchase of a new Moeller Pipe Organ in 1921 at a cost of $15,000 a new console for the organ was later installed in 1951 at a cost of $5,000. Second was the donation of the illuminated revolving cross atop the church tower by Mr. & Mrs. Joseph H. Burton, dedicated in 1922. Third was the first radio broadcast of a service on November 9, 1924 by WREO, the Reo Motor Car Company’s radio station.


In 1942, Richard and Gertrude Scott once again gave a gift to the church, a chapel in Romanesque style, dedicated to their mothers, Mary Jane Scott and Sabina Elizabeth Teel. Construction began on January 30, 1942, and the chapel was dedicated on September 3, 1942. Architects for the chapel were Lee Black and his son Kenneth. The chapel seats seventy. Symbolic decorations of the ceiling and walls are done in oil colors on canvas, the glazing and stone finish producing an effect of age, reminiscent of medieval art used in old European churches.


On May 23, 1948 an anniversary program was led by pastor Dr. D. Stanley Coors. A solo, “Open the Gates of the Temple,” was sung by Mary Toy Yard, whose mother, Mrs. J.M. Toy had sung the same piece 25 years earlier at the dedication of the Temple House.


The old Central Chapel was redecorated and improved to become the Ralph Goodell Memorial Library in 1948. It was formally dedicated in 1957. There are presently more than 5,000 books and records in the library collection.


The carillon, containing 36 bells, was donated by Christopher Hansen, and was dedicated on December 23, 1951. The bells range in weight from 760 lbs. to 9 lbs. The cost, including installation, was $6,000. Wendell Westcott, organist at Central UMC, and MSU carillonneur from 1947‐1985, rang the inaugural concert. Mr. Westcott is credited for his selection of a true carillon, and not an electronic mechanism. The bells were poured at the Petit and Fritsen foundry in the Netherlands, in existence since 1660. The carillon was developed in the 15th‐16th centuries in the Netherlands, Belgium and northern France. There are over 160 carillons in the United States, with twelve in Michigan, six in churches and six in university and other settings.


In 1954, architect Lee Black was asked to create preliminary blueprints and plans for a major renovation of the sanctuary front, which included rearranging the organ pipes, along with other changes in the structure and furnishing of the chancel area. The church board also considered either rebuilding the existing organ or obtaining a replacement. Ultimately, the Casavant Organ Company, St. Hyacinthe, Quebec, enlarged the Moller organ, retaining much of the 1920 pipework, but adding to it additional pipes. Cost of the upgrade was $35,000. The pipes, formerly arranged across the front of the chancel, were placed in chambers on the sides. The choir no longer faced forward, but was located on two sides facing the altar. Numerous other significant renovations were made to the front wall, the pulpit and lecturn, seating and communion rails. The organ had 46 stops of 48 ranks of pipes, with a total of 2,802 pipes. A five‐rank echo organ, which was part of the original organ configuration, was sold and is now in Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Jackson, Tennessee.


A parsonage was built next to the church in 1904 at a cost of $8,000. In 1971 the church voted to demolish the parsonage, rather than preserve it. At a cost of $4,400 the parsonage was demolished and a parking lot constructed. In 1965 the Verlinden Street parsonage was purchased for the use of the senior minister.

IMPROVEMENTS (1970’s‐1980’s)

In 1974 it was determined that the acoustic ceiling tile in the sanctuary actually dampened the sound of both voice and music, and the tiles were subsequently removed. In 1976, the sound booth for the radio studio was added. In 1979 a major renovation of the Fellowship Hall took place, with the side rooms being raised, the stage extended five feet into the room and swinging doors were installed. In 1982 a set of handbells was dedicated. The Whitechapel Handbells were cast at the world‐renowned Whitechapel Bell Foundry, founded outside London, England in 1570. The set contains 61 bells covering five octaves.


As the centennial of the church neared, the church chancel was restored somewhat to its pre‐1955 appearance. The chancel was rebuilt in 1988 with new furnishings, including new reading stands, high‐ backed chairs, a marble altar and communion rails were made removable to create a stage for various activities, and a space was designated for later installation of a new organ. In 1991 a new Jaeckel Pipe Organ was installed and dedicated. It has a tracker (mechanical) action with 30 to 50 stops. It combines a mix from medieval to modern sound to reproduce music from the Renaissance to the present. The cost of the organ was $600,000. It contains 3,168 pipes in sizes from less than one foot to 16 feet. The organ pipes were once again configured across the front, with the choir facing forward.


D. Stanley Coors, 1938‐1952
Paul Morrison, 1952‐1961
Dwight S. Large, 1961‐1967
Howard A. Lyman, 1967‐1978
Neil F. Bintz, 1978‐1982
Sidney A. Short, 1982‐1993
Lynn A. DeMoss, 1993‐1997
John W. Boley, 1997‐2002
Russell F. McReynolds, 2002‐2007
Joseph D. Huston, 2007‐2009
Ronald K. Brooks, 2009‐2013
Linda J. Farmer, 2013‐2017

From the Archives: Old banks and Michigan's first drive-in bank

When Howard J. Stoddard consolidated six Michigan banks on the last day of 1940, he created Michigan's first banking chain.

Lansing National Bank, First National Bank and Trust Company of Grand Rapids, First National Trust and Savings Bank of Port Huron, City National Bank of Battle Creek, National Bank of Saginaw and First National Bank of Marshall, became Michigan National Bank on Jan. 2, 1941.

The new banking system had resources of $57 million and was headed by Stoddard, who was president of Lansing National Bank, and a distant cousin of Marriner Eccles, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

Michigan National Bank's lobby in its early years, undated photo. (Photo: Lansing State Journal file photo)

The central office was in Lansing in the Olds Tower building, with branches in five other cities. The tower was originally named after R.E. Olds, the founder of Oldsmobile and the man who had the tower built in 1929.

When the bank opened, you could start a checking account for as little as $1, and the cost of paying a bill via the bank was five cents per item.

Under Stoddard's direction, Michigan National offered many new services, including extended hours and Saturday hours.

The Michigan National Bank Branch at South Cedar and Greenlawn, was Lansing's first drive-through bank in 1948. (Photo: Lansing State Journal file photo)

In June of 1948, Michigan National Bank introduced Michigan's first Quonset drive-in branch at South Cedar Street and Greenlawn Avenue.

The building, according to a State Journal article in 1948, was constructed by Francis Corr building company. It was an architectural adaptation of the basic factory-fabricated Quonset of post-war design, as contrasted with the wartime Quonset familiar to servicemen.

The structure was 32 feet wide, 36 feet long and 16 feet high. The new branch was the first such building to be adapted for banking purposes in Michigan and the first Quonset bank to incorporate the drive-through feature.


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An ad in the State Journal advertised "banking right from the window of your car . the latest convenience for Michigan National customers" at the new South Cedar Branch located at the corner of South Cedar Street and Greenlawn Avenue.

In 1954, the Olds Tower name was changed to Michigan National Bank Tower, when the Olds family sold the building to the bank.

The Michigan National Bank Tower name remained until 2001 when Standard Federal Bank bought Michigan National out and in October 2001, all branches of Michigan National Bank officially become part of Troy-based Standard Federal Bank.

Michigan National Bank Tower in downtown Lansing, undated photo. (Photo: Lansing State Journal file photo)

The historic Michigan National Bank sign atop the tower was removed Nov. 9, 2001.

In 2005, Lansing's tallest building was renamed the Boji Tower for its current owners, the Boji family.

Other long-gone banks in the area include East Lansing State Bank, First of America, Bank of Lansing, First National Bank, Capital Savings and Loan and numerous others.

Church of God in Christ Church

History of the Lansing Church of God in Christ Church - Elder Richard Wilson established a COGIC at 914 Williams Street in 1924. In 1926, the church moved to a newly erected building at 1025 Birch Street. The blessing of God was upon the Church and it grew rapidly. Elder Wilson sent for a young brother living in Melvin, Arkansas, Elder Perry Robinson, to assist him. The Overseer (Bishop) at the time was Elder Kissington. Sister Dunkin was one of the first members of the church. Because of its location, the church was known as the Birch Street COGIC. In the latter part of 1929, Ionia Davis, at the age of eleven, started attending the Birch Street COGIC Sunday School, and was the first young saint in the church. Malcolm X (Little) also attended Sunday School at the church.

Through the leadership of Elder G.L. Yowell, another COGIC church was built. The saints worshipped there for approximately eight years, and as the years passed, the Birch Street COGIC went through many transitions. General Motors Corp. purchased the church in the 1950s. As a result of that purchase, the church purchased the Mayflower Church at 1100 W. St Joseph Street, where Bishop John Seth Bailey was the Overseer & Pastor. And it was he who suggested the name, Lansing Church of God In Christ.

Later, Bishop S.C. Coles was appointed Pastor. Under his dynamic leadership, the congregation grew and auxiliaries started to function. Many souls were saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. Young people, attending Michigan State University, were blessed during the many tent revivals held at the church. The church continued to flourish in the 1960s. We had a talented choir, an anointed organist, and Bishop Coles - a great speaker and Bible scholar. His credo was: "The spirit of God is moving in the earth, for every right desire, there is an answer. Lord, increase my faith."

Bishop Coles was the Sunday School Superintendent for the State of New York and Canada. Therefore, the congregation and choir had many engagements at various churches in throughout Michigan and neighboring states. One of the greatest highlights in the church history was when the Overseer/Bishop J.S. Bailey brought our Founding Father, Bishop C.H. Mason to visit.

In the 1970's the State of Michigan purchased the Lansing COGIC property. Then the property at 5304 Wise Road was purchased and a new church was built. After a few years, illness overtook Bishop Coles. He became incapacitated and was unable to perform in a leadership role. Two young associate ministers, Elder Samuel Duncan Jr. and Elder Leroy W. Jackson, served as leaders. They shared the preaching of the gospel and held fast for seven (7) years. They diligently worked side by side in peace and harmony to hold the Church and its members together. Bishop Coles died in February of 1991. Bishop Roger L. Jones served as Pastor until June of 1992 and, at that time he appointed Elder Samuel Duncan Jr. to serve as Pastor.

The Lansing COGIC has weathered several storms and its image and spiritual fervency was weakened. While in prayer, it was revealed to Pastor Duncan that the Lord would do a new thing at Lansing COGIC. However, in order for this declaration to become a reality, there had to be a new way of thinking and a renewed faith believing God had not forsaken Lansing COGIC. Thus, New Faith Ministries came into existence, along with a renewed faith that God would rebuild, reestablish and restore Lansing COGIC to its days of glory. New Faith Ministries was not and is not an attempt to replace the rich heritage of the Mother Church, but instead the unfolding of a new cutting edge ministry that the Lord established to PREACH the GOSPEL with BOLDNESS.

In 1993, Elder Duncan sent out a distress call to reach people, children, mothers, and fathers who were crying out for assistance who were dying - not knowing Jesus Christ as their Savior. The Lansing COGIC launched S.O.S. ( Save One Soul), in an effort to double the church membership by reaching the lost. Under Elder Duncan's leadership, the membership has grown, church boards, missionaries, and auxiliaries are functioning, the choir is rejuvenated, the pulpit is filled with ministers, and our weekly services have grown. In addition, the church was renovated. A new 9400 square feet addition, consisting of adminstrative offices, a conference room, a nursery, a computer lab, classrooms, a bookstore, and restrooms was completed in 1998. In a few short years, Elder Duncan, a young pastor, has demonstrated grace and maturity. His credo: "Hide me behind the cross, let no flesh be glorified that God may be exhorted in my life".

The vision for this great house is one that encompasses services and provisions that will minister to the total man. It includes, but is not limited to, winning the lost to Christ, mentoring, spiritual enrichment, mental wellness, and physical well being, i.e., housing, clothing, food, training, education, and jobs. God has brought us to a higher level of expectancy. We're expecting God to move in a miraculous manor expecting greater and greater things to come. The Lansing COGIC "can do all things through Christ that strengthens us. We believe God can do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we may ask or think according to the power that worketh in us. We will not let fear make us prisoners. We have HOPE and we will be PROSPEROUS in this vision.

"Who is left among you that saw this house in its first glory? And how do ye see it now?" ( Haggai 2:3)

Resources in the Forest Parke Library & Archives

A Note on Street Names

Whenever possible, we have listed a street name and address for property records in Local History Online. We try to keep street name conventions in line with USPS guidelines, but we do not abbreviate words like North/South/East/West or Street/Road/Boulevard in our subject headings and search terms. One easy way to find anything for a particular address is to just enter the street name as a keyword. For example, to find records for a house at 123 W. Saginaw St., you can just enter "Saginaw" (without quotes) and browse all of the results. You can also conduct a Browse By Term search using the Search Terms section to find your particular street name.

Real Estate Collections

Our most significant resource for property research is the Stebbins Real Estate Collection. The Stebbins family founded their real estate company, Advance Realty, in the mid 1920s in Lansing, and operated it into the 1970s. Company leaders were heavily involved in the Greater Lansing Board of Realtors over the years. This collection contains nearly 400 boxes of material organized by street address, covering greater Lansing and Ingham County. Odds are if a property was on the market during Advance's active years, there will be a file on it. Photographs, negatives, listing information, classified ad clippings, and more for both residential and commercial properties may be found in each file. Unfortunately, interior photographs are not part of the collection. Due to the quantity and mix of materials in the collection, Stebbins has not been digitized, but we have indexed the streets and communities represented in our online record so you can see if your location might be included. Materials will be scanned on demand.

We have a complimentary collection to Stebbins, the Belon Real Estate Collection, which contains similar material. The agency operated from 1952 to 1970. Files contain standardized 4" x 6" listing cards, often with photographs, for greater Lansing and Ingham County. This collection has been fully digitized and is available in Local History Online, organized by street name.

Other Property Resources

The Lansing City Assessor Photograph Collection is another source for residential property photographs. This collection is limited to property in the city of Lansing, and many neighborhoods are not included. Individual records identified by street address for approximately 17,000 images in the collection are available in Local History Online.

Aerial photographs can be another useful source of information in property research. We have three sets, which focus on the City of Lansing: 1948, 1966-1970, and 1978. All of these were taken for the City of Lansing by the Abrams Aerial Survey Corporation. The 1948 and 1966-1970 sets have been digitized and are available for use within in the library the 1978 set has not but the original photos are also accessible in the library. An index to the 1966-1970 aerials is available online.

City Directories are another excellent source for property research, especially if you are looking to add a biographical element to the history of a structure. Six of our earliest directories are available in PDF form:

Download our City Directories handout for more Lansing-related information about using these books in property and other local history research.

Note that address numbers prior to 1906 are inconsistent and have to be deciphered individually there does not seem to be a comprehensive cross-reference key. The 1868 Sanborn fire insurance map shows the street numbers for Washington Avenue only. Later Sanborn maps (1885, 1892, 1898, 1906, 1913, and 1926) show the second and third numbering systems for some buildings. The 1913 maps in particular use dual numbering for many streets, effectively serving as a cross reference. The Sanborn Maps are available from the Library of Congress, with the exception of the earliest (1868) which is held by the Archives of Michigan. By using the Sanborn maps, other maps, atlases, plat books, property tax records, and other city directories, you have a chance of locating the address you are looking for.

History of Lansing, Michigan - History

Mackinac Island by Notorious4life

When the Europeans arrived there were three main tribes that lived in Michigan: the Ojibwe, the Ottawa, and the Potawatomi. These three tribes formed a group called the Council of the Three Fires. The Ojibwe were the largest of the three tribes and lived mostly in the Upper Peninsula. The Ottawa lived in the west and the Potawatomi in the southwest. Smaller tribes included the Miami and the Huron.

The first Europeans to arrive in Michigan were the French. Explorer Etienne Brule traveled through Michigan in 1618 searching for a route to China. Soon the French laid claim to the land and began to trade with the local natives for furs. Men called "voyageurs" would travel the rivers by canoe trading various goods for furs that would bring a high price back in Europe.

The first permanent European settlement in Michigan was Sault Ste. Marie which was established in 1668 by Father Jacques Marquette. In 1701, Frenchman Antoine de La Mothe Cadillac founded a trading post at Fort Pontchartrain du Detroit. It would later become the city of Detroit. After the French and Indian War in 1763, the British gained control of Michigan and more Europeans people began to settle the region.

In 1763, the Native American tribes were unhappy with the Europeans taking over their lands. A group of tribes united under the leadership of Ottawa Chief Pontiac. They fought back against the British and attacked a number of British forts and settlements. Eventually, British soldiers were sent in to put down the rebellion and Pontiac was defeated.

General Motors Headquarters by Ritcheypro

After the Revolutionary War, the United States declared that Michigan was a part of the Northwest Territory of the United States in 1787. The British didn't leave right away, however, and it wasn't until 1796 that the British finally left Detroit. The U.S. did not fully gain control of all of the Upper Peninsula until 1818. Michigan became its own territory in 1805.

Michigan once again was taken over by the British at the start of the War of 1812. The Americans tried to take back Detroit at the Battle of Frenchtown in January of 1813, but were soundly defeated. However, later that year the Americans defeated the British at the Battle of Lake Erie and took back Detroit.

With the opening of the Erie Canal in 1825, more settlers began to move to Michigan and the population grew. Michigan applied for statehood and, on January 26, 1837, Michigan was admitted to the Union as the 26th state. Detroit was the first capital, but it was later moved to Lansing in 1847.

The economy in Michigan was changed dramatically at the start of the 20th century with the invention of the automobile. Henry Ford of Detroit developed the assembly line and the affordable Model T Ford car. For much of the 1900s, Detroit was the world leader in automobile manufacturing with major car makers like Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler.

Henry Ford Stamp by USPS

Watch the video: Closing the Curtain: A History of the Lansing Theatre District (January 2022).