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Wednesday, May 21,2014

Eye candy of the week

by Daniel Bollman, AIA
Property: 637 East Michigan Ave., Lansing (Clara’s Lansing Station)
Owner: Clara’s Inc.
Assessed value:
$249,200

While those familiar with Lansing will have little difficulty identifying this small but notable building, strangers will find that its deep setbacks make it difficult to locate, particularly along busy Michigan Avenue. Built in 1902 as the Union Station, it served the Michigan Central and Pere Marquette railroads. The building is the work of the architecture firm of Spier and Rohns, who enjoyed an apparent monopoly on Lansing’s turn of the century depots, as they also designed the Grand Trunk Western Depot, now in R.E.O. Town.

Like its sister building, the Union Station depot’s simple brackets and decorative rafter tails carry its wide overhangs, conveniently discharging rain and snow far from the face of the building while providing a dry outdoor area for waiting passengers. It is solidly constructed with thin Roman brick and a splayed stone foundation. Although the pointed Tudor arches on the former porch are somewhat awkwardly filled-in, they provide both urban scale and small detail at the building’s entry. Striking conical roofs top the engaged towers of the west wing, where translucent glass panels complement the quarter sawn oak interior.

Although passenger service ended in 1972, the building was given new life later in the decade following the transformation into its current use as a restaurant.

— Dan Bollman

“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 Becky McKendry at 999-5064.

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