Absolutely Michigan: Capitol Color

Michigan State Capitol by David Marvin

Michigan State Capitol by David Marvin

Most of the photos on Michigan in Pictures come from the Absolute Michigan group on the photo-sharing website Flickr. The group has nearly 300,000 photos in it, and this morning it is positively on FIRE with photos of fall color from all over the state.

David’s photo of the Capitol was the first I saw this morning & is absolutely perfect for this post. See more in his Michigan State Capitol gallery & have a wonderful week!

PS: You can also share photos in the Michigan in Pictures group on Facebook or @michpics on Twitter!

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Looking over Michigan’s Capitol

Michigan State Capitol Building by Joel Stevens

Michigan State Capitol Building by Joel Steven

Michigan’s current state capitol building is actually our third. Michigan’s Three Capitols explains:

In January 1872, a plan (called “Tuebor,” meaning, “I will defend”) submitted by architect Elijah E. Myers of Springfield, Illinois, was selected. Myers moved to Michigan to supervise construction and lived for the rest of his life in his adopted state.

Construction began in 1872. When the cornerstone of the eagerly-awaited building was laid on October 2, 1873, a ceremony was held which rivaled anything Lansing had seen since becoming the capital a quarter of a century earlier. People thronged to the city in numbers far exceeding its capacity. Private citizens opened their homes and made preparations to feed and shelter the visitors.

Materials for the building came from all over the country and even from abroad. Although the millions of bricks that make up its walls and ceilings were locally made in Lansing, the stone facade came from Ohio, the cast iron for the dome and floor beams from Pennsylvania, and the marble and limestone floors from Vermont. The Board of Commissioners made sure the best materials were selected for the best price—wherever they could be found. The final cost totaled $1,427,738.78, considered modest for the construction of a state capitol during this period.

Read on for much more!

Joel took this close up panorama of the Michigan State Capitol building on June 19th. Check out more of his work on Flickr and for sure follow Joel Steven Photography on Facebook!

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Muse Monday: The Muses of Michigan’s Capitol Dome


Offset, photo by DetroitDerek Photography

A highlight of the Michigan State Capitol in Lansing are the eight muses that ring the Capitol dome. During the latest restoration, it was learned that they were painted in the late 19th century by Italian artist Tommaso Juglaris. Michigan’s Otherside relates the story of the Mysterious Painter of the Michigan State Capital Muses:

The paintings are absolutely gorgeous, and for years, historians believed they might have been the work of Lewis Ives, an artist who has other pieces in the Capitol. Then, in 1992, a visitor named Geoffrey Drutchas entered the building, looking for works by a nineteenth-century Italian artist. Drutchas’ inquiry led to an investigation that ultimately revealed the paintings’ true creator. But more on that later; first, a quick background on how the muses became a part of the Capitol in the first place.

The current state Capitol opened in 1879. For the first few years of its existence, the Capitol’s walls were bare, as the state couldn’t spare any money for artwork. Eventually, the state had extra cash, so the legislature commissioned William Wright, owner of a Detroit decorating company, to handle interior design duties. The Capitol’s architect, Elijah Myers, said that he wanted allegorical paintings (in other words, paintings whose subjects look like one thing, but represent something else) to appear above the Capitol rotunda. That’s how the Capitol ended up with its muses. At first glance, the women in the paintings that Wright delivered to the Capitol are simply figures from Greek mythology; however, if a viewer looks at the paintings closely, he or she finds that each muse holds or is surrounded by items that represent a specific aspect of Michigan’s economy and culture.

Read on for more, and also see State Capital historian Kerry Chartkoff’s lecture on Michigan’s Capitol: Muses, Memoirs at Michigan State University.

View Derek’s photo bigger and see more in his Cities other than Detroit slideshow.



Fiery Fall Foliage at Fenner

Fiery Fall Foliage

Fiery Fall Foliage, photo by David Marvin

Let’s head out of autumn with a with a bang and this firework of a maple! I hope you get a chance to get out and enjoy what remains of the 2015 fall color touring season in Michigan. mLive updated their color report with some pics from readers:

The colors are fading fast and the leaves are falling, but there are still some Michigan areas with peak color. The inland areas of the Upper Peninsula and the inland areas of northern Lower Michigan are past fall color peak now. The leaves are falling fast.

But the shoreline areas and the peninsulas are warmer. Some of those areas are still at peak, or even just peaking now.

It will still be well worth the trip to the Leelanau Peninsula and the Old Mission Peninsula this week and probably even this weekend.

We took the drive of M-22 along the shore of Leelanau County Sunday, October 18, 2015. Along the shore there was still some green and was a few days away from peak. Old Mission Peninsula was 50 percent green still on Sunday, Oct. 18, 2015. So if you are going north this weekend, take the routes near water and you’ll be pleased.

The southern half of Lower Michigan is peaking now through the next few days. This weekend will still be real nice to take that last fall color drive.

Also have at these aerial photos of fall color from a U.S. Coast Guard MH-65D Dolphin helicopter they shared a week ago.

Check this photo out big as a tree and head over to Dave’s blog for more photos & writing from Fenner Nature Center.

More fall wallpaper on Michigan in Pictures.

Slam Dunk for Old Man Winter

Icy Michigan Morning

Icy Michigan Morning, photo by daveumich

Much like Uncle Drew, Old Man Winter brought his A-game over the weekend, creating havoc across much of the state. The Freep reports that this weekend’s ice storm knocked out power for over 300,000 people. An interesting fact I learned from the article is that a quarter of an inch of ice is the equivalent of 500 pounds of weight on a span of power line. WLNS adds that thousands of people might be out of power through Christmas – here’s hoping that’s wrong!

View David’s photo from Lansing background big and see more shots of the storm in his slideshow.

There’s more ice on Michigan in Pictures, and mLive has a nice gallery of photos from around the state too!

R.E. Olds Transportation Museum and the MotorCities National Heritage Area

1951 Oldsmobile Super 88 and 1962 Oldsmobile F85 coupe  R E Olds Museum Lansing MI 2-9-2008 182 N

1951 Oldsmobile Super 88 and 1962 Oldsmobile F85 coupe R E Olds Museum Lansing, photo by Corvair Owner

The MotorCities National Heritage Area is holding a Sweepstakes on Facebook. The Grand Prize is an Autopalooza Gift Basket that includes a $50 BP Gas Card, MotorCities 1-year Membership, National Park Passport Stamp Book, Henry Ford 150 Celebration Mug, Ford Piquette Avenue T-Shirt, 2013 Cruisin’ Hines T-Shirt, 2013 Clinton Twp. Gratiot Cruise T-Shirt, 2013 Woodward Dream Cruise Calendar, Free Admission passes to The Henry Ford Museum, R.E. Olds Museum, Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, Gilmore Car Museum Edsel & Eleanor Ford House and more! 2 baskets will be raffled off, one at the Concours d’Elegance on July 28, 2013 and the other at the Orphan Car Show on September 22, 2013.

The photo above is from one of the MotorCities National Heritage Area member organizations, the R.E. Olds Transportation Museum in Lansing. From their Facebook page:

The Museum has thousands of irreplaceable items in the archives along with 52 vehicles that range from 1886 through 2003. It is dedicated to Ransom Eli Olds, inventor, entrepreneur, and financier, and one of Lansing’s most notable automotive leaders. He created the principle of the assembly line in the automobile industry and founded two local automobile companies: Olds Motor Works (1897) and REO Motor Car Company (1904).

…The Museum exhibits a significant collection of automobiles, engines, and other materials significant to the transportation history of Lansing, the region, the state and the nation. The R.E. Olds Transportation Museum and the Bates and Edmonds Engine Company offices are resources within the Lansing Stewardship Community of Motor-Cities-National Heritage Area, a cultural heritage area and affiliate of the National Parks Service.

View Joe’s photo bigger and see more in his RE Olds Museum slideshow.

More Michigan museums on Michigan in Pictures!

What Was There, Michigan Edition

Princess Theatre, Detroit photo courtesy WhatWasThere

The other day I came across a new website called WhatWasThere. This innovative project ties historical photos to Google Maps and Google street views so you can see what was there. You can browse around a map, zooming in and out and then click on photos. The site lays them over the Google street view and lets you fade the old photo to reveal what’s there now!

Unsurprisingly, Detroit has the best coverage so far, and it’s pretty cool to see how sites like Woodward Ave looking north at Jefferson (location of the Spirit of Detroit) or Griswold Street have changed. Water Winter Wonderland (a cool site in its own right) has a sweet shot of the interior of the Princess and says that the Princess Theatre was shuttered in 1922 and located at 520 Woodward. That’s the present site of the old Comerica Bank HQ. At another of my favorite sites for old photos, Shorpy, you can get this photo bigger and even buy a print!

Here’s the link to WhatWasThere for Michigan.  There’s not a whole lot of photos to be found (yet) outside Detroit, but one of the coolest things is that you can add your own historical photos, so the site is only going to get better. There are some definite gems though – be sure to check out Grand Rapids City Hall, the seriously cool looking Lansing Masonic Temple at the site of Cooley Law School and the not very much changed Front St in Marquette. A surprising hot spot is Port Huron – check out Sperry’s Department Store to get going.

Happy Birthday Michigan!

Fireworks over the Capitol

Fireworks over the Capitol, photo by City Saunter.

January 26, 2011 is Michigan’s 174th Birthday. You can learn about Michigan’s rough & rocky road to Statehood on Absolute Michigan.

Check this out bigger in Ariniko’s Lansing slideshow and here’s hoping you find something about Michigan to celebrate today!!

PS: Also check out her City Saunter project to walk every street in Lansing!

The Knapp Building says “Lansing has next”

Knapp's Office Centre

Knapp’s Office Centre, photo by Eridony.

Last week on Absolute Michigan we had a story about Lansing being named the Next American City. The article by Ivy Hughes in Next American City is titled Lansing: There’s No Place We’d Rather Be and might change your view of Michigan’s changing capital city. I had selected this photo for a quick link over to the article because I have always thought the building is neat. I soon learned that the long vacant Knapp’s Office Centre building is being renovated, another tangible sign of the new energy that is rising in Lansing.

Wikipedia’s J.W. Knapp Company Building entry says:

The J.W. Knapp Company Building is a historic five-story, 190,000-square-foot (18,000 m2) Streamline Moderne building in Lansing, Michigan, United States. Designed by Orlie Munson of the Bowd–Munson Company, which also designed several other Art Deco landmarks in Lansing, including the Ottawa Street Power Station, it was constructed by the Christman Company in 1937 through 1938. The curvilinear look of the streamlined structure comes from huge plates of concrete faced with enamel, called “Maul Macotta”, a copyrighted product of the Maul Macotta Company and prismatic glass brick windows. Alternating horizontal bands of yellow macotta and glass block are interrupted by vertical blue macotta pylons, rising from the building’s four principal entrances. The pylons are pierced by windows. The entrance portals, display window aprons, and decorative banding are dark blue macotta. Red, yellow and blue spandrels, incorporating the letter “K” as a design element, decorate the entrance portals

The building housed the main department store of the Lansing-based J.W. Knapp Company. When completed in 1939, it was hailed in the contemporary press as “the most modern building in the Midwest”. Today, it is considered to be one of the finest intact examples of Streamline Art Moderne commercial buildings in the Midwest, notable for its size, clarity of design and brilliant colors.

Don’t miss this great set of Historic photos of J.W. Knapps Building in the Lansing State Journal.

See this photo big as a building and see this and other shots of the building in Brandon’s massive Downtown Lansing slideshow.

Fish Dinner: Blue Heron Style

Fish Dinner

Fish Dinner, photo by Mario.Q.

Mario took this great shot of a blue heron fishing on the Red Cedar River.

Check it out bigger in his Great Outdoors slideshow.

Much more about blue herons on Michigan in Pictures.