A millstone from Morenci among collection in Lansing 2008.01.09

Written by David Green.

“It takes energy to construct a new building;
It saves energy to preserve an old one.”
– National Trust for Historic Preservation


By DAVID GREEN

A piece of Morenci history lies embedded in a Lansing sidewalk as part of a historical renovation project.

Morenci’s Buck & Kellogg Mill was torn down in 1975, but sometime before that, a millstone was transported to Lansing to become part of a collection owned by Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance Company. Founded in 1881, the company was among the first in the nation to offer fire insurance to millers.

Morenci’s mill was built at the north end of Mill Street in 1866 for use as a woolen mill. Charles Buck and Frank Kellogg leased the business in 1889, four years after it was converted to a flour mill.mill.plaque.jpg

The owners’ sons, Arthur Buck and C. Ray Kellogg, took over ownership in 1921 and continued the mill operation until 1952 when it was converted to a feed mill, owned by Stanley Russell.

Eventually the property was sold to the Parker Company and the mill was demolished in 1975.

Move ahead 32 years to a renovation project in downtown Lansing. Morenci native Jim Harper served as an electrician at the site and spotted a plaque that mentioned his home town.

He learned the millstones displayed in front of the building were collected from seven Michigan communities, including Morenci.

The renovated building was constructed in 1925—at least the first three floors were finished at that time. Two additional floors were added in 1928 when the Art Deco style structure became the home of Michigan Millers Mutual Insurance.

The company moved its offices to a new location in 1956 and the old building on Capitol Avenue fell into disrepair.

Renovation

 That changed when the Lansing-based construction management firm, the Christman Company, announced plans to renovate the historic structure. About 20 percent of Christman’s business involves renovation projects, so it was only fitting that the company chose to rehabilitate a stately old building for its own offices.

Christman is incorporating brownfield tax credits, state and federal historic tax credits, and the federal Obsolete Property Rehabilitation Act to aid in the $12 million rehabilitation. The project includes a new sixth floor with a glass west wall and garden terrace, offering a view of the state capitol—one of the company’s many renovation projects.mill.stone.jpg

“At the time it was built,” said Angela Bailey, Christman’s director of corporate communications, “it was a very cutting-edge building and it’s going to be that again.”

The renovation makes the structure a LEED-certified building, indicating environmentally responsible operation and a healthy place to work.

The original slate floor, wrought-iron ornamental stairway and Pewabic pottery on the walls of the main corridors were all kept intact.

When Christman moves into its new home a week from Friday, the combination of the old and the new will be highlighted by those historic millstones in front of the building. That’s where a piece of Morenci’s past will remain embedded.

  • Front.fireworks
    FIREWORKS erupt Saturday night over Morenci’s Wakefield Park during the waning hours of the Town and Country Festival. Additional festival photos are inside.
  • Pipeline Spread
    LINED UP—Lengths of pipe were put in place last week along the route of the Rover natural gas pipeline that will stretch from Defiance, Ohio, to Ontario, Canada. Topsoil was removed before the pipes were laid out. The 42-inch diameter pipeline is scheduled for completion in November.
  • Front.grieders
    ONE-TWO PUNCH—Morenci’s Griffin Grieder saved his best for last, running his fastest time ever in the 110-meter high hurdles at the state finals Saturday in Grand Rapids to finish first in the state in Div. IV. His brother Luke, a junior (right), claimed the state runner-up spot. Bulldog junior Bailee Dominique placed seventh in the 100-meter dash.
  • Front.sidewalk
    MORENCI senior class president Mikayla Price leads the way Sunday afternoon from the Church of the Nazarene to the United Methodist Church for the baccalaureate ceremony. Later in the day, 39 members of the senior class received diplomas in the high school gymnasium.
  • Front.F.school
    PROGRESS continues on the agriculture classroom addition at Fayette High School. The project will add 2,900 square feet of space and include an overhead door that would allow equipment to be driven inside. The building should be ready for the start of school in August. Work on ball fields and a running track is also underway.
  • Front.teacher Leading
    PRESCHOOL MUSIC—Fayette band director Jeffrey Dunford spends the last half hour of the day leading the full-day preschool class in musical activities. Additional photos are on page 7 of this week’s Observer.
  • Front.poles
    MOVING EAST—Utility workers continue their slow progress east along U.S. 20 south of Morenci. New electrical poles are put in place before wiring is moved into place.
  • Face Paint
    FUN NIGHT FUN—Savanna Miles sits patiently while Abbie White works on a face paint design Friday during the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Gracie Snead watches the progress after having spent time in the chair. Abbie was one of several volunteer painters, each creating their own unique look. Additional photos are on the back page of this week’s Observer.

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