Drill sergeants barking orders to subordinates, the blaring music of a rock concert and elephants trampling through the grounds at a circus.

Once home to the 1st Battalion 119th Field Artillery, these were the sights and sounds of the Lansing Armory when it opened in 1924. The mission is much different now at one of the hidden gems in Lansing. It now houses six nonprofits that help those in need.

The Consumers Energy Foundation contributed $125,000 to support the facility’s renovations to become the Nonprofit Center at the Armory about five years ago.

Kelley Kuhn, Vice President of the Michigan Nonprofit Association, has been at the center since it re-opened. She said it’s common for the organizations within the building to share resources including meeting rooms, technology and office equipment. “Sharing resources helps lower operational costs for us [nonprofits] and allows more funds to be allocated toward serving our Michigan community,” said Kuhn.

The Armory served Lansing until it was decommissioned in 2008. It initially housed military weapons, trained soldiers and welcomed back war heroes with rousing homecoming celebrations.

After standing vacant until November 2011, the historical building found new life when developer Pat Gillespie purchased the structure, maintaining historical features such as its thick cement and brick walls that protect the building, large red barn doors on the first floor and basketball court lines on the gym floor.

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Gillespie, who moved into the Armory, also recruited nonprofits to join him.

“This building has seen its share of history over the years,” Kuhn said. “And we look forward to working together and seeing what the future holds. It promises to be a bright one.”

Nonprofits at the Armory and Their Missions

  • Michigan Nonprofit Association– serves nonprofits to advance their missions through civic engagement, capacity-building, data and technology, training and advocacy
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters Michigan Capital Region– provides children facing adversity with strong and enduring, professionally supported 1-to-1 relationships that change their lives for the better, forever.
  • Food Bank Council of Michigan– addresses and alleviates hunger statewide through emergency food resources and advocating on behalf of the hunger relief network
  • Capital Region Community Foundation– serves the charitable needs and enhances the quality of life for people in Ingham, Clinton and Eaton counties
  • Capital Area United Way– unites people and resources to solve defined problems and improve the quality of life for individuals and families in the tri-county area
  • Michigan Association of United Ways– develops powerful responses to current and emerging issues in local communities through policy influence and capacity building

Click to view photos and learn more about the Lansing Armory.

A Michigan nonprofit that is working to make Michigan a better place to work, live and play?  Learn how you can be eligible for a Consumers Energy Foundation grant at ConsumersEnergy.com/foundation.

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