Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2006

Old downtown Lansing

September 21, 2006

So many people have asked me where downtown Lansing used to be before U.S. Highway 73 became four lanes.

Everything on the east side of the highway from Kansas Avenue to Mary Street that includes the grassy area was our downtown.

For the record, the first building on the corner was a red brick building until it was painted a multicolored buff brick color in the 1940s. Before 1920 the north side of that building was a drug store and the south side was a bank.

After 1922, when the grocery stores on the west side of the street burned, Campbell's Grocery Store moved into this building. Actually this building housed two separate businesses. When the grocery store opened, they had to cut an opening between the two about 8 feet wide and a ramp installed, as there was a difference in the elevations. The south part of this became the dry goods store. The upper level housed the telephone office, Dr. Moore's office, Mabel Campbell's apartment and another rental apartment.

The second building was the dark red, brick Rexall Drug Store with a wonderful soda fountain and glass-top tables and chairs in the back. The candy display case faced you as you walked in the door. A slot machine was to the right side as you walked in also. The first druggist that I remember was Mr. Foster. Then came Audrey Purcell and, finally, John Kendall.

The next building was the cafe followed by another grocery store, shoe shop, barber shop/beauty shop. Dr. Moore moved from above the grocery store to the next house that was converted to his office.

Then was the alley that is now behind the new office space now being built. Then came three houses, followed by Kay Street with three filling stations in a row, rental cabins and Mr. Largent's house. From Lois Street to Mary Street were a duplex and three homes.

Four intersections, including two alleys, East Lois Street and East Kay Street, were eliminated when they constructed First Street that we called the Frontage Street.

Many of these individual buildings I have written about previously. You can access these columns online from their beginning if you go to and go to the History Corner. It will be two years in November since my first column.

There is a painting of part of the downtown at our Lansing Community Museum. Come take a look.


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