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Wednesday, August 11,2010

Eyesore of the week

by Jane Alexander

Address: 1510 W. Grand River Ave., Okemos
Owner: TS & P, LLC
Assessed: $123,200
Owner says: Unavailable for comment

This forgotten light blue house is tucked among bustling businesses along West Grand River Avenue in Okemos. Though at one time this home’s unique lattice fence must have made it beautiful, it now serves merely to make this eyesore a memorable one. And if you think the front is shabby, just wait until you see the other side. The varying layers of exposed wall along the back make it look less like a home and more like a skeleton.

But not all hope may be lost for this site. Its location is far from remote in a well-traveled section of town. If this property landed in the right hands, it could once again be a pleasant attraction for its Grand River passersby.

Architecture critic Amanda Harrell-Seyburn says: At one time, 1510 W. Grand River Ave. at the corner of Powell Road was quite a lovely dwelling. Clearly time and neglect has taken its toll on this 1 1/2 story, American Bungalow style residence. It features a stucco exterior with the classic, deeply overhanging eaves and front porch enclosed within the extension of the main roof. An ample dormer, wisely oriented to the south, adds light to the upper story.

A lesson on American Bungalow style architecture:

The American Bungalow style was popularized in Michigan in the early 20th century from 1910 to 1925 and the greater United States from 1920 to 1940. The style features distinct characteristics, and the greater Lansing area is fortunate to have a wide variety of these houses. Use the following guidelines to identify American Bungalow style buildings on your next self-guided architectural tour of the Lansing area.


It may be an American Bungalow if it has several of the following characteristics:


1. American Bungalow roof
- Usually features gabled or hipped roof lines with a low-pitch.
- Gables are usually perpendicular to the fašade.
- The Chicago Style Bungalow features gables parallel to the fašade.

2. American Bungalow eaves
- The roof features deeply overhanging eaves.
- Eaves are supported by exposed rafter tails or highly decorative brackets.

3. American Bungalow porch
- The porch is not an extension of the house with its own roof but is characteristically included within the footprint of the main structure enclosed within the extension of the main roof.

4. American Bungalow stories

- Typically one to 1 1/2 stories.
- Dormers in the roof are usually perpendicular to the gable.
- Dormers bring light into the loft space of the “second” story.

The Midwest boasts one of the great concentrations of bungalows (communities are referred to as the Bungalow Belt in Chicago) in the United States, rivaled only by California. Take time to visit Midwestern bungalow communities in Detroit (Royal Oak, Hazel Park, Ferndale), Chicago (Berwyn, Oak Park, Irving Park) and Milwaukee (Bay View, Rufus King, Washington Heights).

As with all architectural styles, variations are common from region to region where innovative builders developed significant modifications and adaptations of the bungalow.


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