Situated directly across from the state Capital grounds, the Emery Houses (320 - 322 and 326 - 328 West Ottawa) are a pair of double houses representing two of the few remaining structures of a type once common to the city. The houses are frame with brick veneer, two stories tall, set on high foundations, and separated by a four foot corridor. Each is topped by a steeply-pitched roof surface that gives the effect of a mansard roof. Although often described as Second Empire style, the houses technically do not belong in this category since the mansard is little more than a decorative cornice. The Emery houses are associated with the life of Populist activist Sarah E Van De Vort Emery and are very good examples of double house architecture of the late-Queen Anne Period. Sarah Emery was a well-known public speaker and writer who toured all over the Midwest during the 1880s and 1890s, garnering support for her causes which included the Women’s Christian Temperance Union and women’s suffrage.
The Ottawa-Walnut properties are the last surviving examples of late nineteenth century town houses and apartments in Lansing. Built for speculation directly across from the Capitol Building this series of four connected units, three stories high with their mansard roofs have been partially restored and are still occupied. They represent the last relatively unaltered group of such “flats” in Lansing.