Eye candy! Of the week

By Amanda Harrell-Seyburn

Eye candy! Of the week

Property: 120 W. Ottawa, Lansing
Owner: Gary Granger and Jeff McAlvey
Assessed: $138,200
Owner says: It’s a jewel.

It’s a building that everybody feels a little bit of the prestige by being in. Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Hidden mid-block on Ottawa Street between Washington and Capitol avenues is one Lansing’s gems. Restored to its original beauty, this Romanesque revival style building retains its 19th century charm. For more from Harrell- Seyburn, see this story at www.LansingCityPulse.com.

Nestled between the state House office building and the Samuel D. Ingham Building, 120 West Ottawa Street is a treasure. The beautiful red brick building features an asymmetrical facade composed of elements including a semi-circular arched window, a small decorative turret, and highly decorative masonry.

The building was constructed in 1890 as the Lansing Women’s Club, and has been placed on the Federal Register of historic buildings. Owner Gary Granger said he bought the building in 2000 and it has been occupied ever since.

— Amanda Harrell-Seyburn

A lesson on adaptive reuse of historic architecture:

One of the greatest challenges in adaptive reuse of a historic
building for contemporary commerical use is signage. Signage is a very
important feature that can either be an asset or an eyesore on a
historic building. 120 Ottawa is an excellent example of how thoughtful
singage can advertise a contemporary business while respecting the
historic architecture.

Biggby's unobtrusive signage is functional and yet subtle. A small
sign, perpendicular to the facade, identifies the coffee shop housed
within the building. The discreet sign achieves two goals. First, the
perpendicular signage is very functional and pedestrian friendly,
viewable from a block away. Second, the perpendicular sign does not
obstruct the architecture, when viewing the facade straight-on, as a
flat sign across the facade would.


Great signage is a subtle craft and what constitutes appropriate
signage for historic architecture is subject to each individual
building. It is best to consult an architect for advice on signage that
will complement both your business and the historic structure.

Do use signage to advertise your business in a historic
structure but make sure that the signage you use is proportionate to
the building and complements the architecture of the historic

DON'T make the most common error by using garish signage
that conflicts with the historic architecture. When in doubt, use
restraint and choose a subtle signage that does not compete with the
architecture but rather enhances it.

“Eye candy of the Week is our weekly look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates each with Eyesore of the Week. If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse.com or call Neal McNamara at 371-5600 ex. 17.