Detroit architect honored in new book

By STEVEN MAIER

Capital News Service

LANSING — Admirers of architect Wirt Rowland finally have the biography they were looking for. It was a long time coming.

Rowland was arguably the premier skyscraper architect of the early 20th century. He designed prominent buildings around the country for years. Yet his name is hardly known outside of architectural circles, and no one had bothered to write a book about the man.

That’s what struck Michael G. Smith of Bloomfield Hills and led him to write the just-released, “Designing Detroit: Wirt Rowland and the Rise of Modern American Architecture” (Wayne State University Press, $44.99).

The tome is comprehensive and meticulously detailed as Smith explores the rise of Rowland through the ranks of the architectural world and his work in Detroit. Despite his lack of training, Rowland earned a position in the city as an apprentice draftsman in 1901. Four years later, he was the lead designer for the two largest construction projects in Michigan. He went on to work for some of the most prominent architectural firms in the city, designing five of Detroit’s 16 prominent skyscrapers Continue reading

Childhood interest in Great Lakes freighters grew into book

By NATASHA BLAKELY

Capital News Service

LANSING — Power is clear in every curve and edge of the freighters that cut through the blue-gray waters of the Great Lakes.

It’s a familiar sight to those living within view of the shipping industry that plays such a key role in the region’s economy.

And it’s one that fascinated Frank Boles, who grew up in Lincoln Park and fed his interest in large cargo ships during childhood trips to Bishop Park on the Detroit River.

“I realized early on that I did not have the stomach to be a good sailor,” Boles said. “Roller coasters persuaded me of that. I admired them from afar.” Continue reading

Great Lakes writer tackles tale of survival 50 years after Lake Huron shipwreck

By NATASHA BLAKELY
Capital News Service

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Michael Schumacher

LANSING — Michael Schumacher was born and raised in Wisconsin and has been living right by the shore of Lake Michigan all of his life.

“The lake means a lot to me so I won’t take it for granted, ever,” said Schumacher, 62. “I tried to read a lot of the history, learn as much as I can. The more I can learn the better, and I’ve learned the five Great Lakes have separate personalities; they’re all different in their own way.”

He should know. Schumacher recently wrote “Torn in Two: The Sinking of the Daniel J. Morrell and One Man’s Survival on the Open Sea.” It is his 13th published book, and the fourth in his series on Great Lakes shipwrecks. Continue reading