9th – September 2009

Posted: September 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Lansing 150 – A Day In History

Articles that appeared in the print edition of the Lansing State Journal in 2009.

September 1:

Wandering cows in Lansing

In 1875, the Lansing City Council enacted the so-called “wandering cow” ordinance allowing livestock to roam the capital’s streets. The statue’s purpose was to control dry grass while providing free forage for families’ livestock.

But a furor arose over the roaming cattle and their destructive ways. The local newspaper was full of outrages attributed to the animals, including a report that a young girl was “attacked by a vicious cow, and would have been killed but for the timely intervention of a passerby.”

After weeks of complaints, the council relented and repealed the controversial ordinance.

Source: Lansing Metropolitan Quarterly magazine, Spring 1986 issue. Contributed by Timothy Bowman.

September 2:

Junior League goes national

In September 1948, Junior Service League members received word of the organization’s acceptance as a member of the Association of Junior Leagues of America.

Local League volunteers had been contributing to the social, civic and cultural projects in the community since the organization was formed in 1931.

Strengthened and guided by the national organization, members made giant strides in serving the community in fundraising, community giving and self-education.

Sources: Junior League archive; “The Junior League of Lansing, 1948-2003,” by Mary Jane Wilson and Marilyn Culpepper.

September 3:

LCC West Campus opens

Lansing Community College opened a 300,000-square foot, high-tech facility in Delta Township in 2004 with offerings ranging from horticulture to firefighting.

A $1 million U.S. Department of Energy grant that year gave the campus a boost – helping it incorporate alternative energy and fuels into its programs.

Students studied the inner-workings of hydrogen, electric, and hybrid vehicles, and trained to work in energy tech positions in wind, solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency occupations.

Source: LCC archives. Compiled by Marc Thomas.

Note: Similar to May 17th article.

September 4:

Lansing’s ‘Stratosphere Man’

Arzeno Eugene Selden, an early aerial artist, was born Sept. 22, 1899 in Eagle Township. As a mechanical engineer, he designed and built the equipment on which he performed a handstand on top of a steel pole, 165 feet high, while the pole swayed back and forth.

Selden began his career in 1907 and soon became known as “The Stratosphere Man.” He also performed a slide for life, on a wire cable attached high on the steel rigging. He slid to the ground more than one-fourth mile from the rigging, hanging by the back of his neck.

He died of a heart attack in 1951 while recovering from a fall.

Sources: Lansing State Journal; and tombstone in Deepdale Cemetery. Compiled by Karen Douglas.

Note: Similar to Feb. 11th article.

September 5:

BioPort founded in Lansing

BioPort, the manufacturer of anthrax vaccine, opened for business in Lansing on Sept. 5, 1998. Mauro Gibellini, senior vice president, summarized his lessons from the company’s early days:

“One’s attitude toward events is terribly important. Do not overreact, work hard, use intelligent thinking and address one issue at a time. Believe in what you do, and have perseverance.”

Over the ensuing 10 years, BioPort transitioned from a state facility to a private enterprise to a publicly owned company, now known as Emergent BioSolutions, employing 350 skilled employees.

Source: Emergent BioSolutions “Celebrating Ten Years 1998-2008” publication. Submitted by Elizabeth O’Keefe.

September 6:

McGuire elected head of union 1

Cyril A. McGuire, a native of Lansing and a product of the Lansing Schools, was elected president of the General Motors local union, UAW Local 652, in 1969. He was the union’s first black president.

Following his presidency, McGuire was appointed to the international staff, serving as the UAW Region 1-C’s education director and the community action coordinator.

He served on many community boards, several city commissions and served as president of the Michigan chapters of APRI which focused on voter education and registration.

Source: Lansing Labor News. Submitted by his wife, Mary Jane McGuire.

September 7:

Jackson National Life HQ relocated

After 15 years in the city of Jackson, Jackson National Life Insurance Co. relocated its corporate headquarters to Lansing, opening on Sept. 7, 1976.

The employees moved into a new building at 5901 Executive Drive on Lansing’s south side. Jackson National was just establishing a foothold in the financial services industry.

It would go on to build its American headquarters in Aleidon Township, adjacent to Lansing, and employ more than 1,500 at its two Lansing-area offices.

Source: Jackson National archives. Submitted by Shannon Riley.

September 8:

LSO gets new conductor in ’06

In the fall of 2006, Timothy Muffitt took over as the new conductor and music director of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra.

Making his home in Lansing, Muffitt also was music director of the Baton Rouge Symphony Orchestra program and the orchestra at New York’s prestigious Chautauqua Music Festival.

Previous to Muffitt, Gustav Meier was the conductor for 27 years.

Source: LSO archives. Compiled by Kenneth S. Glickman.

September 9:

1933 mural captures Mich. agriculture

Paul Honore’s mural, Michigan National Resources, is on display at the Michigan Historical Museum in downtown Lansing. Its size, theme and figurative style have distinct parallels in Depression-era Works Progress Administration art although the mural itself was not part of the project.

Created in 1933 for the Century of Progress World’s Fair in Chicago, it depicts Michigan’s agricultural productivity and resources.

Also on display are the products of various WPA-sponsored projects in Michigan, including American Indian baskets, miniature furniture models and a Tudor Gothic diorama recreating the dining room of Hadden Hall, a British estate.

Source: Museum’s web site. Contributed by Gretchen Cochran.

September 10:

BoarsHead Theater has ties to fame

“We’re nationally known,” John Peakes, co-founder of Lansing’s BoarsHead Theater, told Chris Brown for an article in Lansing Metropolitan Quarterly in 1990. Actors come from far away to take roles, Peakes said.

BoarsHead’s most famous acting offspring are William Hurt and Mary Beth Hurt; playwrights include John Olive and Steve Metcalf whose play “Jackknife” was made into a movie featuring Robert DeNiro.

Peakes retired from the theater which continues to draw large audiences to plays written by playwrights from far and wide.

Submitted by Timothy Bowman.

Note: Peakes retired in 2003.

September 11:

BoarsHead Theater begins, grows

John Peakes and Richard Thomsen started a small summer stock theater in sleepy Grand Ledge nearly 45 years ago. Peakes went on to found BoarsHead: Michigan Public Theater and Thomsen made his way to the stages of New York.

As the BoarsHead’s artistic director, Peakes moved the theater from summer stock to year-round activity, and in 1975, it became the resident theater for the then-new Center for the Arts in Lansing.

Six years later, it took on true professional stature when it joined the Actors Equity Association, a national actor’s labor union, guaranteeing actors a base salary.

Source: Lansing Metropolitan Quarterly, Spring 1990 issue. Submitted by Timothy Bowman.

Note: BoarsHead started in 1965.

September 12:

Art teacher covers 18 elementaries

Sally Swiss, a retired teacher of art in Lansing schools, recalls when Catherine Smith was the art director for 18 elementary schools in 1954.

Swiss became Smith’s assistant. Their office was in one room in the old Central High School downtown, shared with the music, physical education and home economics departments.

The city was annexing new areas and the school district was growing. Needing more space for teachers and storage, the art, music and physical education departments moved to half an abandoned building on Holmes Road and Cedar. 2

Changes came and went, including cross-town busing, teaching on WKAR-TV, after school workshops and team teaching. Swiss retired in 1982.

Submitted by Sally Swiss.

Note: Sally died one day before this was in the LSJ on Sept. 11, 2009.

September 13:

U-M professor leads Lansing orchestra

Gustav Meier, professor of conducting at the University of Michigan, became the music director and conductor of the Lansing Symphony Orchestra in 1979.

A prestigious conductor who led orchestras throughout the globe, Meier was the orchestra’s leader for 27 years, leaving the LSO in 2006. Previous to Meier was Maestro A. Clyde Roller, a noted conductor who flew up from his Houston, Texas home for his Lansing duties.

Source: Lansing Symphony Orchestra archives. Collated by Kenneth S. Glickman.

September 14:

Burt Reynolds visits his hometown

Lansing was Burt Reynolds’ first home. The actor returned to visit in 1987. He was in town as a radio commentator for the Florida State University football team at the FSU-Michigan State University game in September.

Reynolds is a former Seminoles player. “I was born in Lansing on Donora Street, but then we moved to Georgia and Florida,” Reynolds said in a telephone interview.

He had made a surprise visit to the residence at 1703 Donora St., the day before and took a picture for his mother at their former home.

Source: Lansing State Journal, Sept. 25 & 27, 1987. Compiled by Timothy Bowman.

September 15:

Parking meters introduced in 1941

City officials deliberated for more than two years, but finally on June 16, 1941, metered parking went into effect in Lansing’s downtown area.

Initially 742 automatic meters were installed on the city’s streets as a trial.

Motorists were required between 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. to deposit a nickel for an hour parking or a penny for 12 minutes of parking. Following the trial, the final decision to keep the meters was approved by voters at the November election.

Source: The State Journal, June 15, 1941. Compiled by Timothy Bowman.

September 16:

Restoration of Capitol completed

Lansing’s Christman Co. oversaw the restoration of the 1878 Michigan state Capitol. Costing $58 million, the job was completed in 1992. Over the years, storage cabinets had been constructed in hallways, and half floors were built between the original floors and their 22-foot ceilings.

Systems such as heating, cooling, plumbing, electrical, telephone, audio, video, and electronic were added haphazardly, with a century’s worth of old systems simply abandoned in their place. Skylights, decorative roof fixtures and glass ceiling panels had been removed for safety reasons. Stonework was marred by sandblasting. Structural supports were removed or damaged. The project earned many awards, including the National Trust Honor Award.

Source: Christman Archives.

September 17:

St. Casimir Church founded in 1921

St. Casimir Church was founded Sept. 17, 1921, to attend to the religious and social needs of the Polish people in South Lansing. Settlers had been walking as many as four miles on Sundays to attend Mass at St. Mary’s Church on North Walnut Street in Lansing.

Rev. Leo Szybowicz, a Polish speaking priest, oversaw the amassing of nine lots on Barnes and Sparrow Avenues for $10,200. A rectory was built on Sparrow, where the present school is located, followed by a basement church on Barnes Avenue. The first Mass was celebrated in

St. Casimir Church on April 2, 1922. Fr. Szybowicz preached the homily, first in Polish, and then in English.

Source: “St. Casimir Parish: 75 Years of Faith”. Submitted by Fr. William Lugger.

September 18:

Legislature convenes in new Capitol

In 1848, the State Legislature convened in the new Capitol building here. When Michigan became a state in 1837, the seat of government was in Detroit.

A vote in 1847 moved it to “Michigan,” a town built to be the new capital city.The new Capitol Building was a frame federal structure, 60 feet by 100 feet, with a cupola, standing on the block bounded by Washington, Allegan, Capitol, and Washtenaw.

The building was replaced twice due to fires.

Source: Lansing State Journal, 1998. Submitted by Linda R. Peckham.

Note: Similar to Jan. 14th article.

September 19:

Lansing GM plant closes in 2005

General Motors’ Lansing Car Assembly Plant was the longest-operating automobile factory in the United States when it closed in 2005.

It came in two parts, the Chassis Plant next to the Grand River, and the Body Plant on Verlinden Avenue. Vehicle bodies were made at the Chassis Plant, and then trucked to the Body Plant to be finished.

The Chassis Plant began in 1901 when Ransom E. Olds moved his Olds Motor Works to the city. The Body Plant, originating as the Durant car plant in 1920, became a General Motors Plant in 1935.

Demolition of the two plants began in the spring of 2006, with completion in 2007. A new plant at nearby Delta Township took its place when it began production in 2006.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lansing_Car_Assembly

Submitted by Karen Murphy.

September 20:

Moores donated land for Frances Park

On Sept. 20, 1898, J. Henry Moores left in his will 100 acres for a park to be named for his second wife, Frances Goodman. Frances Park still is known for its beautiful terraced landscaping, its rose gardens, and its view of the Grand River near Waverly Road. Moores made his fortune in lumber and real estate.

After attending Michigan Agricultural College 1866-68, he ran Northern logging camps, invested in land, and held offices in Lansing Pure Ice, Lansing Stamping and Tool, Atlas Drop Forge and Lansing State Savings Bank. He gave land for Moores Park in 1908 and started a zoo. After 1886, he built quality homes on Moores River Drive, where his summer house still stands.

Sources: Lansing Department of Parks and Recreation; Lansing State Journal. Submitted by Linda Peckham.

September 21:

Woman takes public office in Lansing

Frieda Amanda Schneider became the first female candidate for public office in Michigan’s history and Lansing’s first female city treasurer in 1920. It was the same year that the 19th amendment to the U. S. Constitution passed giving women the right to vote.

She had graduated from Lansing Business College, excelling in mathematics. Her first job was as a teacher of math and English, but parents thought it wasteful to teach such classes to girls. Disgruntled, Schneider left to take a job as a clerk in the Lansing City Treasurer’s office.

Twelve years later, she was drafted to run for the top job. She won, breaking all previous turnout records, and beating her opponent with more than a 4,000 vote majority. She then went on to win the county treasurer’s seat in an even more hotly-contested race.

Source: Lansing Metropolitan Quarterly, Fall 1987 issue. Submitted by Timothy Bowman.

September 22:

Lansing leads in TB treatment

The leading cause of death in the U.S. in the early 1900s was tuberculosis. A 10-bed county-owned and operated tuberculosis sanatorium opened in Lansing and soon achieved some of the best success rates for treatment of TB among the nation’s industrialized counties.

In 1907, Visiting Nurse Services was founded in Lansing, predecessor to Ingham’s Home Health Services. Six years later, the 10-bed Ingham County Tuberculosis Sanatorium opened on the Greenlawn Avenue Campus. By 1930, the Tuberculosis Sanatorium achieved status as

Ingham Chest Surgical Center for central and northern Michigan.

In 1941, McLaughlin Osteopathic Hospital opened in downtown Lansing, an eight-bed facility for mothers and newborns.

Source: Ingham Regional Medical Center archives. Compiled by Emily Davis.

Note: Same as Feb.23rd article.

September 23:

Kositchek’s opens in 1865

In 1865, Henry Kositchek opened a dry goods store in Eaton Rapids. Four years later, he moved the store to Lansing at 210 S. Washington Ave. In 1870, he opened another store at its current location at 113 N. Washington Ave., selling men’s and boy’s clothing.

Today, Kositchek’s is the oldest store in Lansing and in Michigan, selling the same thing in the same spot under the same family name. Besides selling men’s apparel, services include custom tailoring, men’s and women’s shoes, a salon and a full-service jewelry department. The business is still family run. Henry’s great-grandson, David Kositchek, is at the helm.

Sources: “Pictorial Lansing: Great City on the Grand,” by Helen E. Grainger; and Lansing State Journal, Dec. 8, 2008. Compiled by Timothy Bowman.

September 24:

Lansing gets cable television

After 10 years of people talking about cable TV in Lansing, service finally arrived in January 1976. Continental Cablevision landed the franchise in May 1974, and later added franchises for Delta and Delhi townships. The first homes to get hooked up were in the southwest part of town. One of the first customers was H.R. McCreary of 1419 Cooper.

The cost then was $6.95 a month. The service provided better reception and 10 stations instead of the usual four or so.

Source: The State Journal, Jan. 6, 1976. Compiled by Timothy Bowman.

September 25:

Wharton Center opens in 1982

The Wharton Center for Performing Arts first opened for business on Sept. 25, 1982 at a cost of $24.6 million. The center had been in the works for many years.

Prior to the Wharton, most classical concerts and Broadway shows took place at the Michigan State University Auditorium, now called the Concert Auditorium. The inaugural concert featured the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with opera diva Birgit Nilsson.

Ken Beachler was the first executive director of the Center. Now, a centerpiece of arts culture in the Greater Lansing area. Wharton has two theaters: the Cobb Great Hall with 2500 seats, and the Festival (now Pasant) Stage with 608 seats. Wharton was built by Lansing’s Christman Construction Company.

Source: Wharton Center archives. Compiled by Kenneth S. Glickman.

September 26:

Elephant terrorizes south Lansing

A carnival elephant escaped Sept. 26, 1963, while performing at Lansing’s South Logan Shopping Center, rampaging through department stores before being killed.

Chased by a screaming mob, “Little Rajjee,” an adolescent Indian elephant, burst from the mall, knocking over fences and injuring one person before being felled by Lansing police in the 100 block of Fenton.

A Lansing State Journal photograph showed her handler bent and weeping over a police cruiser.

Source: Lansing State Journal. Compiled by David Votta.

September 27:

Mount Hope Cemetery opens in 1871

On April 3, 1871, the people of Lansing voted on a bond issue to purchase land we know as Mount Hope Cemetery. A special committee recommended the 82-acre Miller farm, property owned by John and Rebecca Miller, which was purchased for $8,000.

There are many interesting and historical interments, monuments and special sites within the cemetery.

Among them are the R.E. Olds Mausoleum, the Spanish American and World War I Veteran Memorials and the Unknown Fireman Monument. Many of Lansing’s dignitaries are interred along the west side of Section F.

Source: Mt. Hope Cemetery brochure. Compiled by Timothy Bowman.

September 28:

Malcolm X’s father dies in 1931

On Sept. 28, 1931, Earl Little, father of Malcolm X (Malcolm Little), was found injured under a streetcar and died under mysterious circumstances.

The site of his home, which Earl Little built on South Logan Street (now Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) north of Jolly Road, is identified by a historic marker.

Sources: Death Certificate and “Malcolm X, Make It Plain, Documentary” by William Strickland. Contributed by Mary Jane McGuire.

Note: A photo of Malcolm X appeared alongside the article.

September 29:

School for the Blind opened in 1880

Michigan began educating the blind in 1859 at Flint’s Michigan Asylum. Twenty years later the legislature established the Michigan School for the Blind, which opened on Willow Avenue in Lansing on Sept. 29, 1880, with 35 students.

The next year, five students were its first graduates. At first, students learned by lecture/demonstration, but in 1884/85 the school introduced Braille reading and writing. The first deaf/blind student was enrolled in 1887.

By the 1950s the school boasted its largest enrollment, 300 children in kindergarten through grade twelve. Student activities included music, drama, and track. The singer, pianist Stevie Wonder is an alumnus.

When the school closed in 1994, it merged with the Michigan School for the Deaf in Flint.

Sources: “Traveling Through Time: A Guide to Michigan’s Historical Markers,” edited by Laura Rose Ashlee; and Lansing State Journal. Compiled by Timothy Bowman.

September 30:

LCC has first fall term in 1957

On Sept. 30, 1957, Lansing Community College’s first fall term began with an enrollment of 425 students, and seven full-time faculty members supplemented with a number of part-time faculty.

Today, more than 32,000 students are enrolled at LCC each year to be served by more than 3,100 employees.

Source: A College for all Seasons: A History of Lansing Community College 1957-1987, Louise J. Wierbel, 1988. Compiled by Linda Heard.


Typed and photos added by Timothy Bowman.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s