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12.13.18 – SPOKES Notes & Photos

SPOKES Notes written by Roger Morgenstern

  • We took a fascinating look into Grand Rapids’ past at our Dec. 13 meeting, with Baird Hawkins, founder of Interfuse Capital, talking about the challenges and benefits of historical building preservation and specificlly the former Zondervan Publishing building. Now known as the Kingsley Building, after the building’s well-known architect, the building, with its distinctive clock, is a multi-use building on Lake Street in Grand Rapids’ Eastown area.
  • Baird said historical renovation is more expensive, but so important. “Conserving older buildings that are part of our heritage links us to our past.”
  • He said the U.S. entered the “Atomic Age” after the end of World War II, a time of great expansion and urban renewal, vs historic preservation. In fact, our Club’s primary meeting location, the University Club, is inside one of several buildings built in the mid 1960s as part of a major urban renewal project which surrounds Calder Plaza. “Across the country, the idea was the refurbish downtowns but it led to the destruction of many buildings.”
  • The seeds for historical preservation were planted at the same time, Hawkins said, including the 1966 National Historic Preservation Act. The Kingsley Building, built in 1926, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012, while it was under redevelopment.
  • Baird said local libraries like the Grand Rapids Public Library are treasure troves of information on old buildings. He also gave kudos to our Club for helping preserve the collection of Robinson Studio Photography, to have it added to the library’s collection instead of the trash heap. Other great information assets are old City Directories, newspaper archives, tax records, insurance fire maps and property title searches.
  • News and Notes: We saw our Club’s generosity on display when James Eliassen, kicked off by a generous donation by his table mate Derek Aten, “raised $1,480 in 30 seconds” to add to other donations for next Tuesday’s Senior Neighbors Holiday Luncheon  at Kuyper College. The donations will allow every senior attending to receive an extra gift for the first time in the 30-year history of the Club organizing this event. Thank you all!
  • We welcomed three new members to our Club: Claire Horlings, development manager for Kent District Library (sponsors Lance Werner and Dawn Smith); Michael Stapleton, senior vice president of Mercantile Bank of Michigan (sponsors Neil Marchand and Lindsey Gleason) and Jose Velasquez, controls system engineer at Dematic (sponsors Renwick Brutus and Dawn Smith).
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