“The Mysticism of Religious Architecture”  A lecture by Constantine George Pappas, AIA

“The Mysticism of Religious Architecture”

Mid-Century Modern Midland

Constantine George Pappas, AIA
Constantine George Pappas, AIA

“The Mysticism of Religious Architecture”
A lecture by Constantine George Pappas, AIA
President – Constantine George Pappas, AIA Architecture/Planning
Recipient of the AIA Detroit Gold Medal

This free community event, will focus on “The start” when religious buildings were first created and how it transcends into today’s interpretation of religious space and the city of Midland’s richly woven religious architectural heritage.

St. John’s Episcopal Church will host this lecture as part of their Sesquicentennial Celebration, marking 150 years of
The Episcopal Church in Midland, Michigan.

Join us on
Sunday, October 29, 2017 at 3 pm in the sanctuary.
Lecture followed by question and answer time.

Complimentary refreshments,
along with religious architectural drawings and photographs will be
on display in the fellowship hall.
No RSVP required

for more information visit www.midcenturymidland.org or
call Carol Neff at 1.989.839.2744

Defining an Architectural Canon From the Ground Up” By DWELL writer Caroline Wallis

Mid-Century Modern Midland’s efforts to document the cities architectural heritage is receiving national coverage from one of the Design Industries leading media sources! Please take some time to read and share “Defining an Architectural Canon From the Ground Up” By DWELL writer Caroline Wallis. Please leave a comment on the article to show your support for this project that will aid in the national recognition of Midland’s rich history and collection of great architecture and design.

“Defining an Architectural Canon from the Ground Up” by Caroline Wallis


Thank You to all who attended the March 25th Meeting.

Thank you! to all that attended the March 25th meeting at UCC. After a brief introduction in the sanctuary we broke into groups dedicated to creating programming, researching Architects and Architecture Documenting.

We gave instructions to volunteers on how to access the new Architects database and Architecture database for online digital recording.  To proceed to database* click here.

*A special pass code was given to volunteers attending the meeting.  If you couldn’t make it to the meeting but would still like to be a part of this documenting process please email your contact information to mcmm@abdow.org  Carol Neff will contact you with more information on how to proceed.

Thank You to All who attended the Henry Whiting Lecture on April 25th

Thank You! to everyone who was able to attend the Henry Whiting lecture last night. What a unique opportunity to learn about Henry’s relationship with his great-uncle, Alden B. Dow and the many ways Mr. Dow influenced Mr. Whiting’s life and career.  If you were not able to attend and are interested in seeing it, we hope to be able to share a video of it in the near future.  Stay tuned for updates!

Speaking of updates, it’s been a month since our meeting at the UCC to kick off our architect and architecture projects.  There are currently over 100 entries on the architecture database!

Hopefully, with the weather getting nicer, all of the volunteer scanners will be able to get out and continue to identify those hidden gems of Mid-Century Modern structures throughout Midland.  Remember our goal is to have the whole city scanned by Memorial Day.  If you need help, or have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact Carol Neff at either 989-839-2744 or neff@midcenturymidland.org

Press Release: Henry Whiting Lecture

Whiting is returning home to Midland to share his unique journey in a public lecture titled “Living Mid-Century Modernism: Growing Up in Midland and Beyond” The lecture is sponsored by Mid-Century Modern Midland and will be held on April 25th at 7pm, at The Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Auditorium and is open to the public.  Admission is free.


Henry Whiting II has had a life-long relationship with Mid-Twentieth Century architecture and design.  The son of Helen Dow Whiting and Macauley Whiting, Henry was born in a Midland hospital, attended schools, worshiped in churches, interacted in civic buildings and most influentially, grew-up in a home all designed by his Great-Uncle, Alden B. Dow.  This immersion into the design, beauty and the intersection of nature and structure, would have an everlasting impact on Whiting.

Alden B. Dow and Grand Nephew Henry Whiting II, 1982

Running through the wooded property surrounding his family home on Eastman Avenue, now known as Whiting Forest, Henry was constantly awed by the beauty of nature and how masterfully his great-uncle had created structures that were extensions of nature.  “Alden influenced me in so many ways.  His own home and studio, in particular the floating conference room, is the most beautiful space I have ever experienced. I remain in awe of it. What young person could not love a building with so many levels, corners and angles, not to mention a theater and scale trains running through it?”  Whiting reflected.

1947 – The Macauley and Helen Dow Whiting Residence by Alden B. Dow.
It will be the new Visitor Center for the Whiting Forest.

Whiting left Midland to attend high school at the Cranbrook Academy, where he experienced the beauty and all-encompassing vision of another great architect, Eliel Saarinen.  With a focus on art, architecture, sculpture and nature, Cranbrook was an extension of his upbringing in Midland. “I originally wanted to attend Cranbrook, which both of my parents had attended, to be closer to my paternal grandparents.  When I first went there, it looked so old fashioned to me when compared to Alden’s architecture, but gradually I came to appreciate the beauty and organic coherence of its design.  The whole campus is a piece of art in and of itself. The totality of Cranbrook’s beauty would impact me and reinforce all of the ideas that were created by my Uncle Alden in Midland.  The fact that it is architecturally perhaps the most famous high school in the country, and one of the epicenters of Mid-Century Modern design, can only be attributed to fate or destiny for me.”

These combined experiences encouraged Whiting to study the relationship of nature and structure together and took him to the University of Wisconsin-Madison to study landscape architecture.  In his second semester at Wisconsin, Whiting took a course in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright.  With such close proximity to Frank Lloyd Wright’s home Taliesin, in Spring Green, Whiting began his in-depth study of Wright’s architecture, an interest which was strongly encouraged by his great-uncle and enhanced by their lengthy conversations back in Midland. “Incredible conversations with Alden began when I was at Cranbrook and we talked about many topics including the Dow Gardens, architectural publication and design.  Once I began researching Mr. Wright, our conversation would center on the time that Alden and Vada spent as Charter Members of the Taliesin Fellowship in 1933 and Wright’s work and influence.”

After university, Whiting moved to Idaho to help with the design and construction of the retirement house that his parents were building in Sun Valley.  Almost immediately, he discovered the only work by Frank Lloyd Wright in Idaho, the Archie B. Teater Studio, which he purchased five years later and began the first in a series of extensive renovations.

1957- Archie B. Teater Studio by Frank Lloyd Wright.

The structure is perched about 300 feet above the Snake River between the towns of Bliss and Hagerman.  It is a dynamic and soaring combination of wood, glass, concrete and stone.   The elaborate one-room structure is shaped like a parallelogram that follows a diamond grid pattern.  It is believed to be the only studio Wright designed other than his own.

Whiting has devoted his life to the preservation of this incredible structure and the appreciation of Wright’s work.  His loving care of the Teater Studio, which has been his home for the last 35 years, has initiated great friendships with many renowned architects like Bart Prince, E. Fay Jones and John Lautner.  His shared passion for great design with these architects, in addition to his close relationship with Dow, have placed him uniquely in the world of Mid-Century Modern architecture.

With extensive knowledge of both Mid-Century architecture and Wright’s work, Whiting has written two books, At Nature’s Edge: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Artist Studio and Teater’s Knoll: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Idaho Legacy along with numerous articles about the studio.  Whiting lectures across the United States on what it is like to live in Mid-Century Modern design and speaks on the significance and importance of preserving this uniquely American design movement.

Whiting is returning home to Midland to share his unique journey in a public lecture titled “Living Mid-Century Modernism: Growing Up in Midland and Beyond” The lecture is sponsored by Mid-Century Modern Midland and will be held on April 25th at 7pm, at The Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Auditorium and is open to the public.  Admission is free.

“Though Alden was the patriarch and leader of the community of Midland in the 1960’s and 1970’s, his influence was felt throughout the community, it was fascinating to watch how this influence rubbed off on other individuals, particularly architects and artists.  His office spawned many other architects in the community, whose work was also beautiful and compatible with his own.” Commented Whiting on Midland’s Mid-Century Modern architectural heritage.

“Being away from Midland for most of my adult life gives me perspective that many in the community might not have. I appreciate Midland as a unique, one of a kind town.  I often compare it with Columbus, Indiana, which is very similar, and justly world-famous for its architecture. But Midland is different in an important way: whereas Columbus has had many different, famous architects from all over the world working in its community, resulting in a tremendous variety of buildings, they are not necessarily compatible or harmonious. Midland, with its 130 Alden Dow buildings and a nearly equal number of Mid-Century Modern buildings by architects, most of whom worked in his office, has a harmony and cohesion which is completely different, and to my eye, much more appealing as a whole. This quality is easy to take for granted when living with it every day. I hope to shine light on this uniqueness in my talk, and to pay a debt of gratitude, for my life would not have been the same without growing up in Midland.”

For more information about the lecture, visit the Mid-Century Modern Midland website at midcenturymidland.org or call (989) 839-2744.

Thank You to all who attended the March 25th meeting!

THANK YOU to all who were able to attend the March 25th meeting at the United Church of Christ. Whether you volunteered to be a scanner, an architect researcher, or to work on programming ideas (several of you are involved in more than one area! ) we greatly appreciate your enthusiasm, suggestions and involvement in these new endeavors.  Despite the rainy weather, there was great excitement among the more than 60 people in attendance.
The meeting notes for each of these groups can be found under the events tab on the Midcentury Midland Webpage ( https://midcenturymidland.org)
If you were not able to attend but are interested in being involved in one or more of these areas, please contact Carol Neff at 989-839-2744 or email her at Neff@midcenturymidland.org

Looking forward to our continued work to document and promote the city of Midland as an architectural destination!
Mid-Century Modern Midland

Thank you,


click to database

Mid-Century Modern Midland Meeting to be held at United Church of Christ a 1962 design by Schwartz and Blacklock

At our September meeting members denoted how they wanted to be involved in our mid-century modern heritage by selecting “volunteer areas of interests” on the online membership form.

We have been gathering information and are ready to implement the documentation of Midland’s mid-century architecture and the architects that designed it. Please join us at our upcoming meeting as we begin this journey.

Saturday, March 25th 2017
United Church of Christ
4100 Chestnut Hill Drive, Midland, MI 48640
by Friday, March 24th
phone:989-839-2744 or email:mcmm@abdow.org

*If you missed the initial sign-up but would still like to attend, it’s not too late. Just RSVP to this meeting and then go to the website midcenturymidland.org and fill out the membership form to receive emails on future events.


Architect of Original Structure: Charles Blacklock and Robert Schwartz
Year Built: 1962 (groundbreaking) 1964 (dedication)
Square footage of Original Building: Approximately 3600 square feet

Building Description:
From the first moment you see this dynamic structure it invokes interest and exploration.  Masterfully woven into its surroundings, the building is a stunning example of organic, Mid-Twentieth Century Design.  The architects, Robert Schwartz and Charles Blacklock created a soaring structure that is open and free while at the same time comforting and intimate.  It is a masterful combination of innovative materials, new technologies and daring and playful artistry.

The roof over the sanctuary is a hyperbolic paraboloid supported by two buttresses. The roof spans 148 feet from point to point and the buttresses are 80 feet apart. Each buttress contains 45 yards of concrete and 10 tons of reinforcing steel; the buttresses are held together beneath the floor by a reinforced concrete beam. The roof contains 157 tons of light-weight concrete reinforced with 23 tons of steel. It was done in one continuous pour, with trucks coming from all over the area all day.

The windows in the sanctuary are clear glass which ties the building to the outside world. Each season of the year provides a beautiful canvas for the worship space. The color scheme in the sanctuary is based on the liturgical colors, and includes purple carpet and red pews. This same color scheme is used throughout the building

Mid-Michigan Modern: Frank Lloyd Wright, Alden B. Dow and More: Lecture By Susan Bandes

About the Lecture:
Mid-Michigan Modern: Frank Lloyd Wright, Alden B. Dow and More
Lecture By: Susan Bandes
Author of
Mid-Michigan Modern From Frank Lloyd Wright to Googie
at the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Auditorium
followed by a book signing in the Grace A. Dow Memorial Library Community Room
Free Lecture that is open to the public.

Join us, as Susan Bandes discusses her interest and desire to document, and define Mid-Century Modern architecture and the impact it had on the Greater Lansing area reaching into the greater Mid-Michigan region. Learn about the architects that contributed to the growth, development and impact, including Midland’s Alden B. Dow F.A.I.A.

About the Book:

From 1940 to 1970 mid-Michigan had an extensive and varied legacy of modernist architecture. While this book explores buildings by renowned architects such as Frank Lloyd Wright, Alden B. Dow, and the Keck brothers, the text—based on archival research and oral histories—focuses more heavily on regional architects whose work was strongly influenced by international modern styles. The reader will see a picture emerge in the portrayal of buildings of various typologies, from residences to sacred spaces. The automobile industry, state government, and Michigan State University served as the economic drivers when the mid-Michigan area expanded enormously in the growing optimism and increasing economic prosperity after World War II. Government, professional associations, and private industry sought an architectural style that spoke to forward-looking, progressive ideals. Smaller businesses picked a Prairie style that made people feel comfortable. Modernist houses reflected the increasingly informal American lifestyle rooted in the automobile culture. With a detailed narrative discussing more than 130 buildings and enriched by 150 illustrations, this text is a vibrant start at reclaiming the history of mid-Michigan modernist architecture.

About the Author:
photo-2 Professor of Art History, Department of Art, Art History and Design, Michigan State University

Director, Kresge Art Museum, Michigan State

Check out dwell.com

DWELL magazine is a design and technology brand of media that is bridging the gap between modern design professionals and enthusiasts. They have launched a new interactive website that will allow members to create image collections, read articles on modern design, while building a community with virtual discussion rooms. Midland’s Alden B. Dow Home and Studio has partnered with DWELL. They would love your help building their following. Sign up is free. Start your own collections for anything from restoration projects, design elements, to bucket lists of places to visit in the future. There is a whole world of Mid-Century Modern waiting to be explored and this new site is a gateway to finding what you’ve been missing.