Walter H. French Building

Capital Area Housing Partnership Aims to Save Historic Walter French School from Wrecking Ball

The Capital Area Housing Partnership (CAHP), the Louis J. Eyde Family, LLC and the George F. Eyde Family, LLC announced today that the Louis J. Eyde Family and the George F. Eyde Family have donated the former Walter H. French Junior High School, located at 1900 South Cedar Street in Lansing to the Capital Area Housing Partnership (CAHP). CAHP, a local nonprofit development organization, plans to pursue a mixed-use redevelopment of the historic Lansing building, to include a variety of residential options. 

“We are very excited by this generous donation and the prospect of transforming the Walter French building into a wonderful new place to live in Lansing,” said Mikki Droste, CAHP Executive Director. “It truly is a spectacular, architecturally significant building that has played an important role in Lansing’s educational history. This is a rare opportunity to not only save a historic building, but to invest in the City of Lansing and give this building new life for decades to come.”

“The Louis Eyde and George Eyde Families are pleased to be able support the Capital Area Housing Partnership through the charitable donation of the Walter French Building,” said Mark Clouse of The Eyde Company. “The City of Lansing was a proactive partner in helping identify new uses for the Walter French Building. Former Mayor Virg Bernero and the City of Lansing played an instrumental role in connecting the Louis Eyde and George Eyde Families with the Capital Area Housing Partnership. The Eyde Families are excited to be able support CAHP’s proposed plan to transform the Walter French Building into innovative, mixed-use residential workforce housing intended to offer new housing options to City residents.”

Mayor Andy Schor has stated he “is very supportive of saving the historic Walter French building and working with CAHP and the neighborhoods of southeast Lansing to reactivate this property.”

CAHP officials intend to pursue funding available under a recently launched program of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) which facilitates the development of workforce housing, accommodating individuals and families with incomes up to 120% of the area median income.

“This is a tremendous new program designed to fill a gap in the housing market for people with moderate incomes,” said Tom Lapka, board chair of the Capital Area Housing Partnership. “The income limits are designed to attract individuals and families who make a good wage, like police officers, nurses and other professionals, but find the high end rental market outside of their budget.”

Constructed in 1925, Walter H. French Junior High School was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2015 based on its architectural significance and contributions to the field of education. The National Park Service noted in its review that the building is one of the largest and most decorative pre-World War II public school buildings in Lansing. Designed by local architect Judson N. Churchill in the Arts-and-Crafts style, with Tudor-inspired detailing, the school is noted for making important contributions to the field of education in Lansing with the development of a progressive curriculum.