Since all of the old “Family Housing” apartments on the Michigan State campus were demolished a few years ago, it’s hard to find pictures. If I were at home, and had time to look, I might be able to find a snapshot or two. As I am visiting a friend on the other side of the state today, this stock image will have to do.
It is a good photo as it shows what the apartments looked like from the street. Because they were tiny, strollers and bicycles were stored outside. Students from other countries often had large shipping containers beside their doors. Originally used to bring their belongings to the U.S., they later served as a mini-garage. We always wished we had one of those big boxes, for storing all of our excess!
The Cherry Lane complex – one of three family housing complexes on campus – had more than forty of these building, with 800 apartments. We lived in two of them, in the seven years we were at Michigan State. We started on the ground floor, at 814B. We were relocated after a couple years, due to ongoing renovations, two blocks over to 920E, a second floor apartment. They were identical except that the later unit had carpeting.
We were pretty proud of our little Cherry Lane apartment. We were close to campus, being on the campus side of Harrison Road. My classes were all within a mile from home. We loved the name. Cherry Lane sounded so much better than University Village or (dread!) Spartan Village. We loved the proximity to the grocery store, which was just a short walk across Harrison. That plaza also had a cute little soup and sandwich restaurant where my daughters and I would sometimes go to have gazpacho while doing our homework. We were less than a mile from the main street downtown. We soon learned the bus routes, which added the shopping malls and downtown Lansing to our excursions.
The apartments had one door, that entered into the living space. To the left, a small closet, and a shallow nook that held a desk and a narrow bookshelf. To the right, the living room came equipped with one or two office chairs and a sofa that folded open to a bed. The next third of the space was divided between a small kitchen with a dining area, and a bathroom. Two small bedrooms behind the kitchen finished the layout.
Though small, the apartments were efficient and comfortable. Our lives spread out to the places we worked and the things we did. The MSU Library and the DeWaters Art Center became like second homes to me. Jocundry’s Book Store downtown was a weekend haunt, and Beggar’s Banquet – with hand stitched tablecloths and a changing art display – was my favorite restaurant. We’d take the bus to the Frandor Triplex on Wednesday nights, when all seats were two dollars, to watch whichever movie sounded best. We made friends from all over the world.
Of all the places I’ve lived, for a million reasons, the Cherry Lane apartments were one of the best.