Local couple remembers first home after its demolition

Posted at 7:21 AM, Oct 17, 2017

Earlier this month, demolition crews tore down the Blighted Citizens Bank building on the corner of Grand River and Abbot in East Lansing.

But before it became an eyesore, it was "Abbot Apartments"-- and one couple's very first home together.

FOX 47's Alani Letang caught up with them, as they picked up a piece of their history.

Tom and Deborah Tomlinson used to live in Abbot Apartments back in 1967 after they got married, "It was kind of nostalgic for us to see it go, it needed to go, but still it was like a little piece of history....a little piece of our's kind of disappeared."

They lived there for about a year before moving to Germany where Tom was drafted for the Vietnam war. Deborah was at the apartment most of the time during that year (1967), and Tom only stayed there a couple of weeks in before leaving for training. They said that building needed to go to make room for something new, and to keep East Lansing thriving. When Tom and Deborah lived there they said the city was "happening", a time when East Lansing had two movie theaters, and they are pleased to see the city continuing to keep up. They said, "there is always going to be a painful transition, you have to accept how things flow, but I think it's headed in the right direction"

Being a military family, the Tomlinson's moved around a lot, New York, Virginia, and Germany. But they always made their way back to the mitten, and landing in mid-Michigan. Where years later their old apartment building became the East Lansing State Bank, leading Deborah back to their old stomping grounds. "20 years later, I think that the floor I was working on, might've been the floor I lived on" Deborah said.

After the demolition, Deborah went to the mountain of rubble where the building once stood, and the project manager gave her two pieces of the building. Deborah said it was a great 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

One piece, possibly concrete or marble, was from the old apartment, "this is the piece I'd be most connected to because this was lining the walls of the vestibule in the entrance" she explained.

That chunk of wall was something that Deborah used to see daily and it brought back memories, some more interesting than others.
She said, "And yes I do remember them, I remember the walls quite well, coming in from parties, you know. Taking things up the elevator, taking things down."

The second piece was made of stone, and that was installed when the building became the old East Lansing State Bank.

She said that piece used to line the walls and pillars inside the offices.

Deborah said she is not sure what her plans are for the pieces yet, but is glad to have them. She said she dabbled around with the idea to, "posh it up, shine it up, but it on a piece of wood write 50 years." Or, she said she might just leave it the way it is.