July 20 2011 12:00 AM

Properties: 120 Cowley Ave. and 1140 Michigan Ave., East Lansing

Owners: Teresa Dunn (Cowley) and Samuel Lo Presto (Michigan)

Assessed values: $93,800 (Cowley) and $135,100 (Michigan)

At first glance, these houses two doors apart at 120
Cowley Ave. and 1140 Michigan Ave. in East Lansing appear to have
nothing in common. One is a picturesque, traditional,
turn-of-the-century American-style wood-frame farmhouse. The other, a
well-appointed stucco and terracotta tile Spanish-style salt box.
Aesthetically, they could not be more different. But they do have a
shared history.

Each residence was home to Judge John H. Cowley and his
family for whom Cowley Avenue is named. It may be difficult for our
contemporary sensibilities to understand that people remained in the
same neighborhood throughout their life, building a larger home — like
the house on Michigan — within the same neighborhood. It creates a
source of variety within a neighborhood.

Teresa Dunn, a Michigan State University professor and
owner of the Cowley Avenue house, said the embedded history — the
alterations and remnants of previous owners — makes the house perfect
for her family. In addition to its shared connection with its neighbor
two doors down on Michigan Avenue, the house is full of personal history
that cannot be found in a book.

Architecture isn’t just about materials and aesthetics. It is also about the stories beneath the brick and mortar.

“Eye candy of the Week” is our look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates with Eyesore of the Week. If  you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com or call Andy Balaskovitz at 999-5064.