Eyesore of the week

By Brandon Kirby

Building: 1203 S. Washington Ave., Lansing

Owner: T & D Developers

Taxpayers: T & D Developers

Assessed: $179,000

Owner says: Could not be reached for comment

Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: Lansings REO Town contains a variety of architectural gems, including the Grand Trunk Western Rail Station Lansing Depot. The turnof-the-century depot is an excellent example of Jacobethan Revival style train station designed by the Detroit architectural firm, Spiers and Rohm, known for notable train stations around Michigan and in other states. The depot features a classic tower and a beautiful covered outdoor waiting area and Jacobethan Revival architectural details like a steeply pitched terra cotta roof, and decorative brick with stone trim around the windows and doorways. To learn more from Harrell-Seyburn, see this story on www.LansingCityPulse. com

The sign on the front of 1203 S. Washington Ave. promises that inside this former train station turned restaurant (now closed) there will be “blues, booze and barbecues,” but looking at this gorgeous but neglected building only gives you the blues.

This building is on the National Register of Historic Places, and, according to state records, Gerald Ford made a campaign stop here in 1976.

From afar, one may be able to admire the unique architecture of the building. But up close, it is a different story: the boards over the windows are worn, and where there are none windows are smashed. The roof is falling apart, and, of course, scrawled on the building’s walls is hideous graffiti.

More from Harrell-Seyburn on the Lansing Depot:

It may surprise Lansing residents that the Lansing Depot is listed as building No. 80004605s on the National Register of Historic Places. A building listed on the National Register does not guarantee that it will be protected from disrepair. The National Register is simply a designation that denotes a building's historical significance but does not necessarily guarantee the building's preservation. The Lansing Depot is an incredible architectural treasure to the Lansing community.

Piers and Rohm designed beautiful passenger stations in a variety of styles including Tudor Revival and notably, Richardsonian Romanesque. In Michigan, many of these stations serviced the Grand Trunk Railway that ran from Port Huron to Chicago. Although many of the stations designed by Piers and Rohn continue to service passenger trains, the Grand Trunk Rail Station / Lansing Depot in significant use from 1900 to 1924, is no longer in use as a passenger station. The Amtrak Blue Water Line replaced the Grand Trunk Railway Line from Port Huron to Chicago.

It is high time that Lansing had a train station that was easily accessible from the city center. The Lansing Depot is the ideal choice for the reestablishment of passenger service to downtown Lansing. As a National Register of Historic Places listed building, the Lansing Depot should be restored. A train station in REO Town would be a wonderful asset to the neighborhood. It could be the unifying element necessary to return REO Town to vibrancy.

Currently, REO Town and its businesses are a destination for the average Lansing resident. It isn't a place that most Lansing residents frequent everyday. However, a commuter train line would encourage people to visit REO Town on a daily basis. Businesses would directly benefit from the daily commuters and the desolate area currently surrounding the Depot, would be lively with human activity. The Lansing Depot is well positioned to be a commuter station, it is located on Washington Avenue, a ten minute walk from downtown. The area surrounding the Depot has ample parking, a necessity of a commuter train station. In addition, REO Town is a reemerging commercial center that could cater to the needs of commuters and be a viable transit-oriented development for the city of Lansing.

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