THURSDAY, July 14 — To many people, Lansing’s North Washington Avenue is a convenient, forgettable link from the bustle of downtown to the culinary and cultural delights of Old Town to the north. Thursday’s walking tour of the 800, 900 and 1000 blocks of North Washington ought to correct that impression. The leisurely tour, led by the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, will showcase an often overlooked stretch of grand old Lansing — an extra wide, tree-lined boulevard that appears frozen in time.
The houses on the tour started as single-family dwellings, but evolved into rental units, offices, and sites for trade associations over the years. Viewed from the sidewalk, however, this micro-neighborhood’s stately layout is pretty much intact.
Architecture buffs will get a close look at robust examples of Colonial Revival, Modernist, and Greek Revival homes. Three houses on the tour, at 915, 1003, and 1025 N. Washington Ave., feature the work of Lansing’s foremost architect, Darius Moon.
Although the tour won’t take people inside the houses, the Historical Society’s popular walking tours always combine exterior scrutiny, from the architectural standpoint, with a glimpse at the history that went on inside. Over the decades, the North Washington homes were owned by a doctor, a lumber baron, a congressman and a former major of Lansing. The home at 1003 N. Washington also served as a Lavey Funeral Home and is on the National Register of Historic Places. Other homes on the tour belonged to Lansing businessmen who ran insurance, real estate and dray firms. Several North Town business owners lived along North Washington.
Like many other Lansing districts, this stretch of North Washington Avenue was once a self-contained neighborhood, with churches, shopping, groceries and meat markets in nearby North Town, now called Old Town. Look down the center of the broad avenue and it’s not hard to picture the streetcar line that once connected the area to downtown Lansing.
The North Washington tour is the latest in a series that has grown in popularity from a few hard-core history buffs to enthusiastic crowds of 50 to 70 people. The goal of the tours is to foster appreciation and respect for older homes in a city where the wrecking ball is never far away and to remind people that every home has a history.
The walking tour will take place on Thursday, July 14 at 7 p.m. The tour is free. Participants can meet at BWL REO Town Depot, 1203 S. Washington Ave., Lansing.
2016 Summer Walking Tours
7 p.m., Thursday, July 14
BWL REO Town Depot
1203 S. Washington Ave., Lansing
(517) 282-0671, lansinghistory.org.