Elinor’s House

This is the TENTH in a series of interviews with homeowners in the (East) Lansing area. The purpose of this series is to learn more about our neighbors and create a sense of community that can exist both online and out in the world!

Tell me about yourself, where you live in East Lansing, and who you live with.
I’m a widow with two children who grew up here and went to East Lansing Schools and Michigan State University. I now have five grandchildren and a great grandchild on the way in June. I’m an RN and a Real Estate Broker; having sold real estate for more than 30 years. I’ve served on several Boards and Commissions over time and hope I’ve helped moved the needle in public service.

What’s keeping you busy these days?
I just sold a home in East Lansing which I had purchased to renovate and sell. I’m really pleased with the outcome and had perfect buyers who appreciate the care and attention to detail. I like to think I’ve brought beauty, value, and good neighbors to the community. Currently I’m engaged in a couple of projects in arts and culture which will keep me occupied for some time to come. I’m pretty immersed in the life of the community.

What brought you to East Lansing?
Back in 1958, my brand-new husband, Larry, and I came to East Lansing from the Grand Rapids area so he could get a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science. He was already a civil engineer with a Masters in Physics. We stayed as we started a family and all our friends said that East Lansing had a wonderful school system. He had a great career at the Michigan Department of Transportation as Director of the MDOT Materials Research Laboratory and initiated a joint risk management project with the Michigan Attorney General’s office.

How long have you lived in your home? Since October 1967

What drew you to this house? It was clearly designed by an architect who was influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright– large expanses of south facing floor-to-ceiling glass, capacious overhangs, large private yard, and fantastic location. It turns out that the Lantern Hill neighborhood homes were designed and sited by Hugh Stubbins, a notable architect. They were small and affordable and could be easily expanded.  The neighborhood is featured in Susan Bandes’ book Mid-Michigan Modern:  From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie.

Did you have the feeling of “this is the one” when you were house hunting? Absolutely. We had been house-hunting and had lost out on a similar home on Roseland. A friend was bicycling and saw a tiny “for sale” sign and we immediately went to see this home. As we walked in the front door, I gasped audibly and my husband poked me in the ribs. It was love at first sight though the home had been rented at one time and in need of love. We bought it immediately.

What’s one project you thought you would do before you moved in? I think it was within the week of moving in that we began to rip the fake marble panels off the bathroom walls and broke up the hideous linoleum tiles on the floor. They were probably asbestos, but who knew at that time?

Have you done it – why or why not? We did everything we wanted to do with this wonderful home. It is quite modular, and accommodates additions and renovations beautifully.

What has been your favorite project so far? Hard to say. We had a wonderful time designing our master bedroom/bath addition in 1992. Being amateurs, it took a whole year to get the right design so it would be natural to the house and have a seamless exterior. We renovated the kitchen and added on a living room addition but those were easy, thanks to Larry’s engineering background.

Summer Solstice Jazz Festival Fundraiser held in 2019

How has the pandemic affected your daily routines? Yes, like everyone else. Pre-pandemic, I had an active social life and saw my family often. I entertained at home, both indoors and outdoors. I’ve been isolated except for grocery shopping and necessary appointments. Now I Zoom meetings and Book Club gatherings.  

Due to the pandemic, is there anything you wish you could change about your home or where you live? Not at all. It is large enough to have great spaces and the outdoors is part of what I enjoy every day even in winter. I never tire of living here. The home is a long ranch and low to the ground and I designed the gardens so they are visible from all windows. I can watch birds and wildlife. Serious wildlife. Deer, rabbits, foxes, skunks, chipmunks, a raccoon or two.  They think they own the yard and they do.

What are some of your favorite places to shop/eat/hang out in East Lansing? SideBar, Beggars, El Azteco, Peanut Barrel, East Lansing Public Library, Hannah Center. When Covid has been contained, I’ll be walking downtown again and into the coffee shops, Saper Gallery, Goodriches Grocery, and just enjoying living in East Lansing.

How do you spend an ideal Saturday at home? Now that I’m semi-retired, I can structure my days, get up late, read the New York Times, watch a MasterClass (Billy Collins), talk to my family and friends, and hopefully, I’ll be seeing them in person soon and partying in the garden again.

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Lightning Round:

  1. How many TVs do you have and what are you currently binging? I have two TV’s, one for entertainment and one for watching the news as I exercise. I’m bingeing on “The Bureau”, a French spy thriller series on the French CIA which is a combination of John LeCarre and Graham Greene. Just finished another French series, “Call My Agent”, which is terrific.
  2. Are you handy, crafty, hostess, or cook? Yes, and can’t wait to entertain again
  3. Can you fold a fitted sheet? No. Should I try?
  4. What’s your “at-home” equivalent of Inbox Zero? My Eames chair and ottoman and a good book. In summer, my screened porch, Papasan chair and a good book. I bought the Eames chair and ottoman from Roy Saper many years ago and it’s the most comfortable chair I ever sat in.
  5. What’s a favorite simple or inexpensive treat? Tiny Oreos so I think I’m eating less calories
  6. What is your favorite splurge for your home? A huge bouquet of fresh flowers in midwinter. Or daffodils I can enjoy early and then plant outdoors.
  7. Do you have an organizing hack to share? No. I have a haphazard and spontaneous approach to organizing my household
  8. When I say hygge, you say…. Same as #4
  9. What do you want to know about your neighbors? I hope they appreciate the beauty and history of the homes and the neighborhood. I believe they do–it’s a great neighborhood and fits the East Lansing walkability model.

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Thank you, Elinor! If YOU would like to be featured on the Real Houses of East Lansing, please send an email to the editor, Carrie Sampson, at realhousesofeastlansing (at) gmail (dot) com (written out this way to prevent spam). Thx for reading!

Published by eastlansinghome

Carrie Sampson is a longtime resident of East Lansing, Michigan. She has worked in nonprofit communications for over 20 years and in the last decade has become increasingly interested in interior design and issues related to the built environment. Carrie has served as a commissioner on the East Lansing Historic District Commission since 2018. She has written the Eye Candy and Eye for Design columns in the Lansing City Pulse since 2019. To learn more or to work with her, send an email to mrscarrsamp AT gmail DOT com.

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