Hays House, 605 Butterfield Dr. (1937)
Hays House, November 2003. Photo Credit: Kevin S. Forsyth.
James Grant Hays, Jr. moved from Philadelphia around 1910 to study agriculture at M.A.C. He later married and he and his wife, Betty, partnered with Herman and Esther Andrews (both M.A.C. ’17 or ’18) in a registered Holstein dairy farm near Howell, Michigan. The farm was described as “self-sufficient” since, in addition to milking about forty cows daily, the venture “grew hay, oats, wheat, corn, garden produce and a variety of nursery and cut flowers for sale in Detroit.” Meanwhile Mr. Hays “was a vital member of the Dairy Department at M.S.C. and M.S.U., and did much public speaking and extension contact for the department over the years.”[Karson, 25 May 2006] He retired around 1955 and was a 1958 recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award.
This house was designed for the family by one of their three sons, James G. Hays III, in the International Modern style. This style emphasizes modern materials such as steel, glass, and concrete; minimal ornamentation; and the maxim “form follows function.” Interior details, innovative for mid-Michigan at the time, include a poured concrete staircase with stainless and chrome railings, and a kitchen with built-in appliances and floor-to-ceiling cabinetry.
While many homes in this style (in East Lansing and elsewhere) have later been altered with more traditional siding and even sloped roofs, this house stands as an excellent and atypically unmolested example of the International Modern style.
East Lansing Historic Commission documents spell “Hayes” with an “e” but a family friend assures that this is in error. Architect James G. Hays III also was co-founder of the Spartan student magazine in 1936.[Kuhn, p. 391]