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From a cool modernist cube perched on the banks of the Grand River to a massive edifice with a third-floor, tunnel-shaped ballroom, Sunday’s tour of Lansing’s Moores River Drive neighborhood is a tantalizing opportunity to peek into some of the city’s most interesting private homes — with no legal consequences.
Only don’t say “mansion” in Lansing, where coziness is key, even in the ritziest part of town. The tour, a benefit for the Historical Society of Greater Lansing, is top-heavy with solid, well-lived-in, century-old specimens built for comfort, not for show. Compulsive labelers will shake their heads when they enter 1917 home of Stephen and Karissa Purchase at 1717 Moores River Dr., formerly the home of the Williams Seamans family, owners of Lansing’s legendary Style Shop.
Is this thing a Tudor pile or a Craftsman cabin? Bungalow or colonial? Just say yes. In the early 20th century, well-off Lansing homeowners suited themselves, taking the best from a menu of styles. Thankfully, experts will be on hand at all five homes to explain the architectural niceties.
Another home celebrating its centennial is the sorta-arts-and-crafts crib of John and Judy Nash at 1826 Moores River Dr., formerly the home of John Hopkins, a head honcho of Lansing industrial giant Atlas Drop Forge. Here, as in all the homes on the tour, hosts will share historical tidbits of life among Lansing’s leading lights from a century ago, from bridge luncheons and golf outings at the nearby Country Club to house parties for bankers and captains of industry.
Home tours give visitors oblique angles on Lansing history. The long, long Tudor home at 2117 Moores River Dr., the home of Troy Wilson, was designed by leading Lansing architect Lee Black, father of Kenneth Black — the father and son team that designed Lansing City Hall, the downtown library and several MSU buildings.
The most recently built home on the tour is the daring white cube at 2222 Moores River Dr., a modernist home with an Art Deco dynamism that ruffled a few neighborhood feathers when Lansing architect Barry Wood built it in 2006 — he snagged the precious riverfront lot when the country club decommissioned an old pump house by the river. The kitchen has a panoramic view of the river, like the prow of a ship, and despite the sleek exterior, the place is shockingly cozy inside.
And so, believe it or not, is the centerpiece of the tour, the famous Potter House, home to James McClurken and Sergei Kvitko and frequent scene of benefit events and concerts by pianist Kvitko and his cronies, nationally known classical music artists. Visitors will be lost in a thousand details, lovingly restored by the owners, from the fantastic art tiles in the sun room to the custom murals and moldings and, of course, the ballroom, a stucco tunnel like no other in Lansing. A one-afternoon tour like this is just right: you can enjoy it all up close and not worry about restoring or maintaining it.
Moores River Drive
Home Tour Sunday, Sept. 16 1 to 5 p.m.
$55 for home tour, brunch, tour of Country Club of Lansing (517) 282-0671 Home Tour only tickets available online or at Country Club on Sept. 16