James DeLoss Towar House, 507 Abbot Rd. (1904)
J. D. Towar House, November 2003. Photo Credit: Kevin S. Forsyth.
J. D. Towar (M.A.C. ’85, MS 1902) was born September 26, 1863 on the Towar family farm, north of East Lansing, which his family settled in 1853. The Towar farmhouse was nestled in a bend of Lake Lansing Road, opposite the present Whitehills Elementary School. “At one time it was the largest home in Ingham County. The dining-room wainscoting displayed 24 species of native Michigan wood.”[Kestenbaum, p. 10. Minutes, 26 Mar 1902, p. 21. Beers, p. 51]
Towar was employed as Agriculturalist for the M.A.C. Experiment Station until 1902. He was instrumental in much of East Lansing’s early development: he helped establish the East Lansing school district, took part in the incorporation of the City, and in 1933 wrote History of the City of East Lansing, in which he claims to have been the one to suggest the city’s name.[Minutes, 29 Jan 1902, p. 2]
This house is the only survivor of the four East Lansing houses built and lived in by Towar; one other, formerly at 307 Abbot Road, was the first house completed on the Oakwood plat.[Towar, p. v.] The family farmland is now a subdivision called Towar Gardens.