Property: Old Botany Building – Michigan State University, East Lansing

This building might have been constructed in a different place in 1892, were it not for the objections of Michigan Agricultural College President Oscar Clute. When the original Botany building burned in 1890 and consumed the extensive collections within, Botany Professor William J. Beal planned for its replacement near his home along Faculty Row.

Instead, the Botany Building was sited along the developing Laboratory Row, which joined the Faculty Row buildings in defining a campus area known as the Sacred Space. Even then, the zone was reserved for natural landscape features, which reinforced Clute’s directive to build the structure at its current site.

Not surprisingly, the building shares several details with its laboratory contemporaries, including red sandstone lintels and cut stone foundation. The red brick, likely made from locally extracted clay, joins the steeply pitched roofs in a display of regional materials and details. The building exhibits an obvious entry through the grand main arch, which is echoed in several windows.

A short time ago, the building was covered with creeping ivy. While it was removed, presumably for maintenance purposes, there is a romantic quality found in the “ivy covered halls” of a building dedicated to the study of plants.

“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 or call Berl Schwartz at 999-5061.