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Wednesday, January 29,2014

Eye candy of the week

by Daniel Bollman, AIA

Property: 1203 S. Washington Ave., Lansing, Grand Trunk Railroad station

Owner: Lansing Board of Water and Light

Sitting back from South Washington Avenue and in the shadows of the Board of Water and Light’s new cogeneration power plant and headquarters, this building once served as a depot for the Grand Trunk Railroad. Designed in the Tudor Revival style by the Detroit-based architecture firm of Spier and Rohns, it was built in 1903 to serve a new R. E. Olds automobile factory south of the train tracks. Although the auto plant is gone, its presence is echoed in the BWL’s new cogeneration plant nearby.

An imposing stone and brick tower dominates this robust building. Its battered walls, built of thin Roman brick, are topped by a crenellated parapet, giving it the look of a medieval castle. The cut stone water table and numerous limestone accents complete the building’s solid composition. The steeply pitched clay tile roof terminates over deep eaves, supported by heavy wooden brackets.

Inside, the depot’s main waiting room is a soaring, barrel-vaulted space featuring exposed wooden beams. A large group of west-facing windows admits generous light into the great room.

Visitors should look for the whimsical light fixtures, added during the recent restoration.

Since 1971, when Grand Trunk ended its passenger service through Lansing, the former depot has housed several dining establishments. It now serves as the meeting room for the BWL’s board of commissioners.

“Eye Candy of the Week” is our look at some of the nicer properties in Lansing. It rotates with Eyesore of the Week.

If you have a suggestion, please e-mail eye@lansingcitypulse. com or call Andy Balaskovitz at 999-5064.

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