Alden B. Dow Home and Studio celebrates Midland’s resiliency

It’s hard to find a building, event, or important cause in Midland that doesn’t have the Dow name somewhat attached to it. But it’s more than just a name, design style and movement, it’s a legacy. To celebrate that legacy along with the resiliency of the Midland community after multiple devastating floods, the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio is offering a special public tour of three distinguished homes.

Midland Resiliency: Three Mid-Century Modern Homes Restored and Remarkable takes place on Saturday, Oct. 7 from 1 to 4 p.m. and costs $25 per person. Reservations are required, and available online. There are no same-day ticket sales. Kids 8 and up are welcome. 

Exterior photo of the Becnel Residence
Director of the Alden B. Dow Home and Studio, Craig McDonald, has worked for the Dow family since 1983, helping establish the tour programs, educational offerings, and more. McDonald says the mission of the Home and Studio is to help educate visitors on the work and influence of Alden B. Dow. 

“His influence then radiated out to other architects who would also design things in Midland to create this legacy of mid-century modern (MCM) buildings that is just unprecedented in Midland,” he says. “We have documented 436 mid-century modern buildings in Midland, which is the highest concentration of individually-designed MCM buildings in the United States for one city.”

McDonald also founded the app and website, Mid-Century Modern Midland, showcasing the structures in the area, designer information, historical dates and other interesting tidbits. Typically, mid-century modern design elements look at the form and function of structures together, connecting the outdoors and bringing the colors and textures of nature indoors. 

The Branch Residence/The Dow Biological Laboratory by Alden B. Dow
The Resiliency Tour features a look at three structures, two on Valley Drive and one on Eastman Avenue that have done master restructuring and renovating. Two of the homes were severely damaged by the 2020 flood, and one was neglected, needing massive work. 

“Three couples have decided to invest and reinvest in Midland, and wanted to save their homes and appreciate their mid-century elements of the homes. They thought it was worth reinvesting in Midland’s future to put massive amounts of time and resources into restoring these houses,” McDonald says. “You’ll get to see three very unique, distinct environments which are just really spectacular.”

The tour showcases homes by Alden B. Dow, Jackson Hallett, and Francis Red Warner. People can drive or walk to the structures themselves, all within about a mile of each other, and tour the structures at their leisure. Outdoor storyboards detail information on the initial condition of the houses, flood damage, and why the renovation was important to the owners.

“We’re very fortunate to have all of the homeowners in the structures, along with other guides that will orient you to the room. These are all docents that have been given a history of the house and are very knowledgeable,” McDonald says.

McDonald hopes the continual education to the public of mid-century design elements can help positively impact Midland. He’s noticed an uptick in the rise of value of mid-century structures, resulting in bidding wars. Aside from homeowners, the architectural education also translates to visitors to the area, too. 

The Kendall Residence by Jackson B. Hallett
“We think we’re having an impact on Midland, hopefully long term,” he says. “Tourism can certainly be a much bigger part of Midland going forward because of our architecture and this unprecedented collection of buildings we have. Midland’s always been a city redefining the world, creating new definitions, and this architecture has really been a part of that. It continues to be a really unique story.”

Aside from this special tour off-site, public tours of the Home and Studio are available Monday through Saturday at 2 p.m., with an additional tour on Friday-Saturday at 11 a.m. Private tours are available by appointment. 

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Read more articles by Sarah Spohn.

Sarah Spohn is a Lansing native, but every day finds a new interesting person, place, or thing in towns all over Michigan, leaving her truly smitten with the mitten. She received her degrees in journalism and professional communications and provides coverage for various publications locally, regionally, and nationally — writing stories on small businesses, arts and culture, dining, community, and anything Michigan-made. You can find her in a record shop, a local concert, or eating one too many desserts at a bakery. If by chance, she’s not at any of those places, you can contact her at