Aug. 28 2015 12:00 AM

LCC brings old YMCA pillar to downtown campus

Ty Forquer/City Pulse

FRIDAY, AUG. 28 — Lansing Community College’s newest piece of public art isn’t so new. It’s over 70 years old.

An 18-foot-tall limestone column, dedicated at a public ceremony this morning, was installed this week at the corner of Shiawassee and Seymour streets. And while it is new to this location, the pillar has a long history in Lansing. The structure sat for decades at the northeast corner of the former Lansing YMCA on Lenawee Street. The pillar was donated to LCC by Julie Lawton-Essa and Dan Essa, owners of the former YMCA.

“Now this column will have a new life,” said LCC President Brent Knight, noting that the structure adds to the university's placemaking efforts and its attempts to beautify the western edge of LCC’s campus.

DSC_0161.JPGAs part of the dedication, a crew from Schiffer Mason Contractors placed the 600 pound capstone on the top of the pillar. The Holt-based business was responsible for dismantling the pillar and reassembling it at its new location. Dan Schiffer, founder and retired CEO of Schiffer Mason Contractors, credited LCC for starting his career.

“Old Central is where I started my brick and masonry studies,” said Schiffer, referring to LCC’s first building.

The Old Central Building, formerly located at the corner of Shiawassee Street and Capitol Avenue, began life as Lansing High School in 1875 and was renamed Central High School in the 1920s. The original building resembled a Victorian fortress, with an imposing tower, pointed spires and elaborate brickwork. Over the years, various renovations and modernizations removed the tower and upper levels of the building.

LCC acquired it in 1957, renamed it the Old Central Building and held its first classes in the building. It was torn down in 2006 to make room for LCC’s University Center.

The pillar, when completed, will acknowledge this past. Bronze trim will be added to the pillar, featuring line drawings of both the Old Central Building and the historic Carnegie Library, which still stands on the other side of Shiawassee Street.

(The library’s faade is still intact, but the interior has been connected to the University Center and completely renovated to house modern classroom and office spaces.)

The pillar will also be retrofitted with stained glass window panes, which will be backlit by a newly installed light. These finishing touches will take place over the next month or two.