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Introduction

Origins

The City

Collegeville (1887, 1895)
College Delta (1898, 1899)
Oakwood (1899)
Cedar Banks (1900)
College Grove (1903)
Fairview (1904, 1905)
College Heights (1904)

Charter of 1907

Avondale (1913)
Bungalow Knolls (1916)
Chesterfield Hills (1916)
Ardson (1919)
Ridgeley Park (1921)
Strathmore (1925)
Glen Cairn (1926)

The Campus

Chronology

1855–1870
1871–1885
1886–1900
1901–1915
1916–1927

 

Interactive Map

Sites on the National and State Historic Registers

Complete list of
Significant Structures

Sources

Gov. Murray D. Van Wagoner House, 415 Clifton Blvd. (1925)


Van Wagoner House, July 2004. Photo Credit: Kevin S. Forsyth.

Murray Delos Van Wagoner (1898–1986) was a civil engineer and state highway commissioner before serving one two-year term as Governor of Michigan, 1941–1942. He enacted legislation establishing the Michigan State Safety Commission “to promote greater traffic safety on public roadways.” In return, the headquarters of the Michigan Department of Transportation in the state capitol complex is named for him.

It is not clear when, if ever, Van Wagoner lived in this house, but when it comes to transportation history another former occupant is arguably at least as notable as the ex-governor. From no later than 1938 to about 1965, the house was owned by George P. and Lillian M. Ritts.[Lansing City Directory (1938), p. 443. Lowell Ledger, 15 Aug 1968, p. 21]

George Paul Ritts (1895–1968) was a research engineer for Oldsmobile when he lived here, but prior to that Ritts lived in Auburn, Indiana, where he worked on the engineering team that developed the innovative Cord 810 luxury car. Among his contributions Ritts is credited with adding holes to the Cord’s distinctive hubcaps to provide much-needed cooling ventilation to the brake drums. He was also one of a trio, along with Auburn chief engineer George Kublin and fellow engineer Stanley R. Thomas, who in July–August 1935 drove a 4-door prototype Cord 810 “on its initial shakedown cruise all the way to Los Angeles so that E. L. Cord could have a look at it,” then drove it back to Indiana to incorporate the founder’s notes and lessons learned on the trip. His obituary in 1968 claimed other automotive innovations “pioneered by Mr. Ritts include windshield wipers, thermostatically controlled heat, air conditioning and many others.”[Coachbuilt.com. Lowell Ledger, 15 Aug 1968, p. 21]


A 1936 Cord 812 convertible, showing off its innovative hidden headlights, chrome supercharger pipes, and Ritts’ ventilated hubcaps. Auburn–Cord–Duesenberg Museum, October 2015. Photo Credit: Kevin S. Forsyth.


The Holy Earth

by Liberty Hyde Bailey