Oct. 3 2012 12:00 AM

Annual tour lets you peek in some swanky Westside homes


An enormous fireplace with ornate Victorian-style tile dominates the Carr family’s living room. Elaborate plasterwork covers the ceiling and arched glass windows adorn the walls. Homeowner Gordon Carr says that when people step into his house, they are instantly struck by the unique design. 

“People immediately gravitate toward the living room,” Carr said. “There are characteristics (of the room) that date back to the 1880s. It’s really very special.” 

The Carr house is one of eight locations to be featured in the 17th annual Westside Neighborhood Home Tour, taking place from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Carr’s house was built in 1928 for local businessman Alton Hager, who was active in the Lansing community, including serving as president of the Lansing Chamber of Commerce. 

“We’ve lived here for 10 years and haven’t done any remodeling or made any additions,” he said. “Just a lot of maintenance. Even though we’re the fifth owners of the house, it’s as it was 80 years ago.”  

Since 1995, the tour has been held every year except 2011, and gives Lansing residents the opportunity to explore the diverse houses in this historic neighborhood. Ninety percent of the proceeds go to Advent House Ministries, a nonprofit aiding Lansing area homeless, with the rest going back to the Westside Neighborhood Home Association to allow them to continue hosting community events. Susan Cancro, executive director at Advent, said her organization was able to raise around $9,000 through the last tour in 2010. 

The houses on the tour were built anywhere from the late 1800s through the 1960s. Ted O’Dell, who describes his home as a “historic preservation” project, hasrestored the house’s era-appropriate features. This includes the icy, opaque vitrolite glass along the walls of his grand bathroom.  

“The style of the house is colonial revival,” he said. “Keeping with the 1920s theme, we took out all of the white tile in the kitchen, down to the linoleum and stained the floor an ebony color. The walls, the countertops, the floors, the cupboard, it’s all historically correct.” 

O’Dell says his house also boasts an interesting history. The original owner was a manager at the Motor Wheel Corp., which was once the largest producer of automobile wheels in the world. The house was sold when he died.

“It was then purchased by Dorothy Payne in 1958, who was a Lansing community activist,” O’Dell says. “She started the Meals on Wheels program in Lansing here in this house. The basement was actually built into a big kitchen.”

Most people would fret over opening their home to a parade of strangers, but O’Dell said he doesn’t have any reservations.

“We’re just excited to share our love of history and architecture with people who enjoy the look of classic homes and also help out with a good cause.”  

Westside Home Tour
Oct. 7, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Lansing´s Westside Neighborhood
(517) 485-4722