Whether it's for dances, detention, or sporting events, it is not uncommon to find school open Saturday. This weekend, the Historical Society of Greater Lansing invites local history buffs to come to school on Saturday for an entirely different reason. The group will host its fifth annual silent auction fundraiser at Lansing’s historic Eastern High School Saturday evening.
“Past generations of Lansing residents prepared for their most important moments of life there,” said Valarie Marvin, Historical Society of Greater Lansing president. “We are honored that the Lansing School District and Superintendent Yvonne Caamal Canul are allowing us to use this incredible icon for our auction and public tour."
The school, completed in 1928, is a prime example of Tudor revival style that was popular for American high schools and universities at the time. The Historical Society of Greater Lansing hosts the auction in a different historical venue each year, and previous locations include the former Bank of Lansing (now Comerica Bank), the Board of Water & Light’s John Dye Water Conditioning Plant and the recently renovated Knapp’s Centre (formerly Knapp’s Department Store).
A wide array of items are featured in Saturday’s auction, including everything from retro-inspired posters and vintage photos to framed art pieces and hand-picked antiques and collectibles. There are also various “experiential” offerings, such as private tours of the MSU Archives and Museum, weekend getaways and a “Cooking with Mena” experience with Mena Castriciano, owner of Roma Bakery and Deli. A full list of items up for bid can be found at the Historical Society’s website. Proceeds from the event will go towards the creation of a Lansing historical museum.
Former State Rep. Clark Harder will make a special appearance as a guest DJ, spinning chart-topping hits of the last four decades. The evening’s activities also include tailgate-themed snacks and guided tours of Eastern High School and the Don Johnson Fieldhouse, which become a part of the school’s campus in 1975.
The school was chosen as the auction’s venue, Marvin said, not only because of its impact on the students that attended Eastern, but also because of its impact on the surrounding community. The tour’s primary focus will be Eastern High School’s significance to the tens of thousands of Quaker graduates.
“Education is a very important part of our community’s identity,” said Marvin.
As the auto industry in Michigan exploded, several thousands of workers flooded into Lansing to fill positions in auto factories and parts suppliers. Between 1900 and 1920, Lansing experienced a three-time increase in its population. This rapid influx created an imminent need for another high school.
“Before Eastern was built, Lansing High School was being used by two shifts of students each day in order to accommodate all of the people moving into Lansing,” Marvin said. “The opening of Eastern allowed Lansing high school students to get a quality, daylong education once again.”
Saturday’s event gives local history buffs a chance to check out a historic institution — and Eastern graduates a chance to relive some memories.
“Past generations of Lansing residents prepared for their most important moments of life there: young love, homecoming, graduation and career training,” Marvin said.
Historical Society of Greater Lansing Annual Fundraising Auction4-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10. $15 Don Johnson Fieldhouse, Eastern High School 220 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Lansing. (517) 282-0671, lansinghistory.org