The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
First Buildings

Mason Hall. — The first department of the University to be established was Page  1619the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts, in 1841. Mason Hall, the first University building devoted to instruction, in the beginning was known as the University Building. In the course of a few years it was supplemented by an identical structure, placed on the same line but separated from it by a gap of about 150 feet, known as the South College Building. Later, these two buildings were joined by a large central structure, and the completed building was called University Hall, the earlier buildings becoming North Wing and South Wing, respectively.

On March 3, 1838, almost a year after the institution had been established in Ann Arbor, a building committee was appointed by the Regents, consisting of Lieutenant-Governor Edward Mundy, Chief Justice William A. Fletcher, and Chancellor Elon Farnsworth; the latter was replaced by Regent John J. Adam in January, 1839. This committee was directed "to fix upon and recommend … a plan for the University buildings," to prepare estimates, to make contracts for materials, and to deal with the question of employing an architect. In connection with this duty, the committee became involved in a curious misunderstanding, the story of which is told by Mr. Mundy, the chairman, in a report dated November, 1838, and presented to the Board on the following April 13 (R.P., 1837-64, pp. 82-83).

On advice, the committee through Mundy opened negotiations with Ammi B. Young, of Vermont, inviting him to visit Michigan with the prospect of being employed as architect. Young, who was engaged at that time in the erection of the Customs House in Boston, could not give full acceptance to the invitation, but offered, nevertheless, to produce a set of plans. On May 15, 1838, therefore, the committee, by letter, gave him a description of the site and commissioned him to furnish them with a design.

Mundy, during that summer, went to New Jersey. While there, he received a letter, dated July 19, from Judge Fletcher which asked him to consult with an entirely different architect, Alexander J. Davis, of New York, from whom the Regents expected a plan, and to ask him to visit Ann Arbor as soon as he could. Calling upon Mr. Davis, Mundy was informed that "a correspondence had existed between himself and one of the members of the Board, to whom anterior to the appointment of this Committee had been given authority to procure a plan for the buildings" (R.P., 1837-64, pp. 82-83). Davis appears to have observed all the professional proprieties, for he told Mundy that Young had, in a letter to him, expressed a willingness to relinquish his connection with the affair. Young, however, later wrote Mundy that he "had expended much time and study upon the designs for the University buildings, that he had completed the most difficult part, the designing … and forwarded … his bill for three hundred dollars …" (R.P., 1837-64, p. 83). Who had engaged the services of Davis, however, does not appear. At any rate, Davis, and not Young, became the first architect for the University of Michigan.

From Davis the University got prompt action. On September 16, 1838, the plan which he drew up was unanimously adopted, and it was determined to begin construction of "the Main Building and eight sections of the North Wing." It was voted to pay Davis $600 and to appoint Isaac Thompson, of Connecticut, as builder. One set of plans which Davis drew is deposited in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; the set which was submitted for the approval of Governor Mason, after many vicissitudes, found its way back to the archives of the University. These plans call for a Page  1620Gothic structure very different from the severe style of the building finally erected (Mason Hall).

In Alexander J. Davis* the Regents had selected one of the most distinguished American architects of the midnineteenth century; he designed many buildings of national importance. The transaction, however, was doomed to be ill-fated, and his plans, although adopted and still in existence, were never carried out. Exactly what was said and done during the interval between September, 1838, and January, 1839, we do not know, because of the absence of explanatory documents. Although brick was purchased, the actual building, apparently, was not begun, and the action was rescinded as being "premature."

The plan for the original building, Mason Hall, was submitted on April 8, 1840. To take the place of the plans drawn by Alexander J. Davis, the Regents on April 7, 1840 (R.P., 1837-64, p. 128), directed the Building Committee to "procure and report to this Board tomorrow, a plan for a principal Building …, together with the estimates of the expenses for erecting and completing the same." The report, which was forthcoming and adopted by the Regents on the next day, was signed by Harpin Lum, the contractor for the Professors' Houses. This first building was completed in 1841, in time for the opening of college in the fall. The four Professors' Houses had been occupied in 1840.

The final plan was very different from the design presented by Alexander J. Davis, the first architect appointed by the Regents. His sketches, now preserved in the Metropolitan Museum, show an elaborate brick building in the so-called Gothic style of that period. This plan, although first approved by the Board of Regents, was finally rejected because of the opposition of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, John D. Pierce, who deemed it altogether too expensive. Whether Mr. Davis had a hand in designing the building actually erected is not known, although in some of its details it recalls other buildings designed by him. Isaac Thompson, who was associated with Davis, superintended the construction of two of the Professors' Houses; he was replaced by Harpin Lum, who not only completed the first two, but also the second two and the main building. In view of the fact that the plans for the main building were not submitted to the Regents until April, 1840 (whereas the Davis plan was adopted as early as September 16, 1838), and Thompson had been dismissed in July, 1839, it is possible if not probable that the design was worked out by Lum in conjunction with the Building Committee of the Board of Regents.

The structure, designed to be used for the most part as a dormitory, was 110 feet long, 42 feet wide, four stories high, and of brick construction with stucco facing. It provided 18,575 square feet of floor space. The plans called for thirty-two studies, each with a wood-room, and sixty-four bedrooms, each with a closet. Later, alterations were made to provide for classrooms as well as dormitories. Directly behind the building was a wood-yard, from which the students secured their own fuel. The cost of the building, according to Lum's estimate, was $16,000. Originally, the brick exterior was to have been painted, but after receiving favorable reports concerning stuccoing "in New Haven and elsewhere" by a Mr. Gill, the Regents decided to stucco the Professors' Houses, and it was felt that the Main Building should conform in appearance. The Page  [unnumbered]

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The Michigan Creed
Page  [unnumbered]Page  1621builders are said to have mixed the stucco with skim milk in the hope that this would be more durable.

It would be easy to assume, today, that this first building was of cheap construction, evidence of an attempt to save at every turn, but those who were concerned with the matter at the time appear to have felt very differently. Thus, the Board of Visitors reported in 1841-42:

The plan and profile of the University buildings as marked out and adopted by the Board of Regents, will, when completed, present an imposing spectacle, worthy of the great objects for which they are designed… The age in which we live could not make a more noble and acceptable donation to the age which is to follow, than will be presented by these splendid monuments of taste and art, … The material, style and finish of these buildings [those already completed], combining convenience, solidity and elegance, are creditable to the architect, and well adapted for the uses for which they were designed.

(Rept. Superintendent of Public Instruction, 1841-42.)

Again in 1849 the college buildings were described as "admirably finished, after the most approved plan, the result of long experience and observation on the part of the college officers."

The students' quarters consisted of three-room suites or apartments, each with two bedrooms and a common study room. Originally, the building was divided into two sections, each a complete and separate unit consisting of sixteen apartments opening on a central stairway. A tutor, who occupied an apartment on the first floor, presided over each of the sections. The necessity of providing classrooms upset this scheme, since it seems to have been tried out only once, at a time when Andrew Ten Brook, who later became Professor of Philosophy, served as tutor. The faculty strongly and repeatedly recommended the adoption of this plan, but the eventual decision on the part of President Tappan to abandon the dormitory idea in order to secure more classroom space prevented its ever being put into operation.

In April, 1843, the Board of Regents named the building Mason Hall, in the following resolution:

Resolved, That as evidence of the feeling with which this Board cherishes the memory of the late Stevens T. Mason, by whom it was originally organized, the cottage edifice, now in use at Ann Arbor and known as the "Main Building," shall henceforth be called "Mason Hall."

(R.P., 1837-64, p. 264.)
The name was not used, however, for many years, perhaps because at the time there was no need for a special designation for the one University building. It has been suggested, too, that, in view of the growing feeling concerning abolition, the fact that Governor Mason was a Southerner may have militated against the popular acceptance of the name.

The South Wing. — In January, 1847, the Regents decided to erect a second building, since additional accommodations were needed for a chemical and medical laboratory and for recitation rooms, as well as for the housing of students. The new building was to be "similar in its dimensions and general plan to the principal building now in use," and Kearsley and Owen were appointed a committee of two to carry out the plans for the building. It was completed in 1848-49, costing approximately $13,000, and was known as South College. The Regents' committee again recommended, in July, 1848, that the first building be called Mason Hall and that the new or South building be named Pitcher Hall for Dr. Zina Pitcher, a member of the first Board of Regents, and one of the founders of the Medical School. These recommendations, however, were laid on the table. In 1913 a communication was received from the Page  1622Sarah Caswell Angell. Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, requesting permission to place a tablet on the north building (called North Wing of University Hall) and asking also that the building be known thereafter "by the title by which it is said to have been originally designated, … 'Mason Hall.'" After looking into the records, the Regents consented, and the name again was formally adopted in July, 1913.

Thus, the first two units of what later became University Hall were designed solely for dormitories, to be conducted under a tutorial system. The immediate necessity for space, however, reduced the dormitory function to three-fourths of each building. The other fourth was devoted to lecture and recitation rooms, a chapel, library, and rooms for the Mineralogical Cabinet and the two literary societies.

In their report for 1850, the Board of Visitors noted that sixteen rooms in the "dormitory buildings" were unoccupied. Finding the doors to these rooms unlocked, they inspected them, and complained that they found evidence that the wood closets had been used for sawing and splitting wood, much to the damage of the floors, and of the ceilings directly below, from which much plaster had fallen. They were greatly surprised that such a practice should have been allowed in the University. They also thought it a great oversight that someone had not been provided to make the beds and keep the premises neat. The students were sweeping the dirt from their rooms into the halls, whence it was removed by the janitor once or twice a week.

The academic uses to which these two buildings were put varied from time to time. The Chemical Laboratory for Dr. Douglas was set up in the North Wing, probably in 1844. In 1848 it was moved to the South Wing, where it remained until the erection in 1850 of the first Laboratory Building, which eventually became known as the Medical Building. On one occasion the location of the faculty room and a janitor's room in the North Wing was the cause of much embarrassment. The doors to the two rooms, which were directly opposite each other, stood open. A rope was stretched from doorknob to doorknob. It was, of course, the janitor who climbed through the window and solved the problem.

In 1856, at a cost of $3,500, the entire central part of the North Wing was renovated and equipped, according to plans by Jordan and Anderson, architects, to house the Library and the Museum. The contractor was William Gibbings. This coincided with a decision to abandon the dormitory plan altogether and to encourage the students to find rooms in the town. The new arrangements provided a gallery around the room devoted to the Library, in which, and in rooms opening from it, the Museum and the art exhibits were displayed. The Mineralogical Cabinet was placed in the north half of the gallery, with the geological collections in the south half; the Fine Arts collection, begun in 1855 by Professor Frieze, was accommodated in three adjacent rooms.

The fourth floor apparently continued in use for a time as dormitory rooms. The last one on the campus, on the second floor in the south end of the North Wing, "directly under the bell," was occupied as late as the year 1870-71. Its various tenants acted in the capacity of caretaker for the Museum. The Chapel appears to have occupied the space, on the main floor at one end of the North Wing, that normally would have accommodated two student suites. When the Law School was established in 1859, the Law Library also had to be housed in the Library room, and this arrangement continued until the completion of the Law Building in 1863, when both the Law and the Literary College libraries were moved Page  1623to the new building. After the Museums Building was completed in 1880-81 the central part of the North Wing was renovated to provide classrooms. In the spring of 1899 the little room that had been attached in 1862 to the north end of the North Wing to house Randolph Rogers' statue of "Nydia" was cut away, and replaced by a bay window.

The first professorship in engineering was established in 1853, and much of the nonlaboratory instruction in this subject was given in South College until 1890. The Law Department also had quarters in this building. In 1861 a large room on the ground floor was given over to military drill. After removal of the engineering courses to the easterly of the two Professors' Houses facing South University Avenue in 1891, South College appears to have been devoted largely to classrooms, particularly in the natural sciences, with the Treasurer's offices occupying the ground floor. On the morning of May 28, 1913, a fire broke out in the Botanical Laboratory at the south end of the top floor, causing part of the roof to collapse, and resulting in damage estimated at approximately $47,000, including injury to, or loss of 2,692 books belonging to the Library, as well as a part of the University Herbarium. The Treasurer's records escaped harm. Restoration of the building was promptly voted by the Regents, and plans were incorporated for its use after the impending removal of the Biology Department to the new Natural Science Building.

University Hall. — The decision, in 1870, to ask the legislature for an appropriation for a new University building, appears to have been the result of repeated urgings on the part of Acting President Henry S. Frieze. In a report to the Regents in March of that year, he dwelt at some length on the need for a more perfect union "of the three grand departments of the institution," including both faculty and students. It was to further this end that the University Senate had been formed, and on November 17, 1869, at the suggestion of Regent E. C. Walker, a new anniversary, "University Day," was inaugurated. This day was celebrated only twice, in 1869 and in 1870. "It created strife rather than union" (Farrand, p. 208). The great need of the University, however, in Dr. Frieze's judgment, was "an audience room … suitable for all … occasions, … as well as for … exhibitions and annual commencements." He said: "The University has no roof under which to assemble her various Departments. She has a family of a thousand children without a shelter" (R.P., 1870-76, p. 25). At the same time he stressed the shortage of classrooms.

He pursued the subject further in his annual report of September, 1870, "Certainly no Union School District in this State would think it creditable, either to its enterprise or humanity, to shut up its youth in such rooms as the Academic Department of the University is now compelled to occupy." A further argument may well have clinched his case. The admission of women into the University had not given rise to the evils apprehended but it had presented an unconsidered problem. With no adequate space for the young men, how could room also be found for young women? Dr. Frieze said:

Any one who should witness the difficulty the large classes of this department find in moving along the narrow "gang ways," up and down the narrow stair cases of this building, a movement which must take place at almost every hour of the day, would hesitate to expose young ladies to all this embarrassment and discomfort.


You have believed it a duty to comply with the request of the Legislature, urged upon you by repeated majorities in both houses, and undoubtedly reflecting the will of the people. You can now in all fairness ask the Page  1624Legislature to furnish you with the buildings necessary to make their request effectual, and to carry out their wishes.

(R.P., 1870-76, pp. 76-77.)

The Regents accordingly agreed to approach the legislature, and that body almost unanimously voted an appropriation of $75,000. This action, following the establishment of the principle of the mill tax in 1867, marked a new era in the history of the support of higher education by the state. It was decided that the new building, "with its front of 347 feet, and its dome rising to a height of 140 feet from the ground" (R.P., 1870-76, p. 203), affording 61,903 square feet of floor space, should be a connecting link between the old North and South College buildings, making the whole one large University building. The name "University Hall" was probably adopted by the Regents at their meeting in June of 1871. After consideration of plans submitted by several architects, E. S. Jenison, of Chicago, was chosen as architect. The original plans showed a monumental archway above the main entrance and a dome which the Regents deemed "inexpedient." The dome, however, was retained in a modified form, rising approximately 60 feet above the building, 140 feet above the ground, and with a diameter of 30 feet.

The design provided for a chapel on the north side of the main floor, with a seating capacity of 550; across on the south side was the President's office, with a waiting room for ladies at the east side. The main feature of the building, however, was the large auditorium on the second floor, which seated 3,000 people — 1,700 on the main floor, and 1,300 in the encircling elliptical gallery. The building also provided eleven lecture rooms as well as offices for the Regents, the faculty, and the steward. This plan proved more expensive than expected, and the legislature was called upon for an additional $25,000, bringing the total cost to $105,459.61.

The cornerstone of the new building was laid on Commencement Day, June 28, 1871, which was also the occasion of the first official appearance of the recently elected President, James Burrill Angell. Two years later, on the evening of November 5, 1873, the dedication ceremonies took place, although the Chapel and lecture rooms had been in use since October of the preceding year. Thirty-four hundred people crowded into the new auditorium to hear addresses by Regent George Willard, the Honorable D. Bethune Duffield, of Detroit, and President Andrew D. White, of Cornell University, formerly a member of the University of Michigan faculty.

Criticism of various sorts arose during the construction of the building. Some people objected to making it a part of the two original college buildings, while others did not like the construction materials. The writer of an editorial in the Chronicle of September, 1871, said:

Every one must regret that a building, over which we have been more puffed up than any other college in the country and which would have been worth over one half million dollars, had to be built of brick and stuccoed; but the amount of capital and the style of the old buildings left no choice in the matter.

The opinion was also prevalent that the quality of the materials was poor.

There was, too, a strong reaction against the appearance of the building. A very caustic editorial in the Chronicle of May, 1875, was directed chiefly against the dome. The sight of it "would have caused Michael Angelo to hang his head in shame." The writer remarked that it should always be viewed from the State Street side if one would get an impression of its beauty and grandeur as Page  1625"it shows at a great disadvantage from the rear." Reference was also made to the "pepper boxes" ornamenting the roof. Of this last criticism the Regents took notice and in 1879 ordered the removal of "the two circular corner turrets and the two turrets at the base of the dome," and provided for the finishing of "the said corners and said sides in conformity with the style of said dome." They also ordered the removal of the balustrade which bordered the roofs of the two wings (R.P., 1876-81, p. 398).

Finally, widespread fear arose that the self-supporting roof of the auditorium would not bear the weight of the great dome, which was estimated at 112,000 pounds. DeVolson Wood, Professor of Civil Engineering, reviewed the plans in detail, made independent calculations of the strains, and wrote two articles, which were published in the Chronicle, reassuring the public as to the safety of the building. After the dedicatory ceremony, the Chronicle (5[Nov., 1872]: 42.) noted: "The seats were full, but no signs of weakness could be detected, … The acoustic properties of the hall, we are happy to say, are excellent."

Regardless of its physical qualities, however, the erection of University Hall was of great moral significance. President White's dedicatory address, which made a profound impression, was an argument for state-supported colleges, and Acting President Frieze, in his annual report for the year 1870-71, referring to the almost unanimous vote of the legislature appropriating money for the new building, said:

If it is reasonable to regard the Legislature as representing the sentiment of the people, I think we may now feel assured that the University has at length reached that period which we have always desired to see, when it should be recognized and accepted by the citizens of the state as a genuine state institution, not only such by the organic laws of the state, but in the estimation of the people, and in their cordial sympathy and support.

(R.P., 1870-76, p. 113.)

Immediately upon completion, the new building became the center of all University activities. In 1894 the Columbian Organ, built by Farrand and Votey, of Detroit, and valued at $25,000, which had been used in Festival Hall during the World's Columbian Exposition at Chicago, was purchased by the University Musical Society and installed in University Hall. The instrument was promptly named the Frieze Memorial Organ. With this began a series of vesper services, held twice weekly, at which a chorus of 100 voices, under the direction of Professor Stanley, sang. The spring of 1894 also witnessed the first of the long series of May Festivals which have been held since that time.

Early apprehensions concerning the weight of the dome increased, and in November, 1895, the Regents ordered the Committee on Buildings and Grounds either to repair or to remove it if this seemed desirable. Subsequently, after representatives of the H. George and Company, of Detroit, had inspected it, it was finally decided that the old dome should be removed. This was accomplished during the Christmas holidays of 1896, and plans for a new roof were prepared by Spice and Rohn, architects. The new dome was of iron, much smaller, and consequently less expensive, a fact which was sadly noted by an alumnus writing in 1899, "The mighty dome which we used to point out and look at fondly on our walks about the neighboring country has gone, and its place can never be taken in our hearts by its diminutive and bubble-like successor" (Michigan Alumnus, 6[Oct., 1899]:6). But he added that while it was inspiring to view the old dome in a tempest, to sit beneath Page  1626it, because of its many leaks, was damaging to body, raiment, and character.

At the time the roof was being recon-structed, the incline of the floor of the auditorium was lowered twenty-two and one-half inches, and the seats were replaced by opera chairs. As the Chapel exercises were gradually discontinued, the Chapel became a general assembly room, known as Room C, and was used for class meetings.

Once more in the early 1900's fears were entertained for the safety of those sitting in the gallery of the auditorium. The enthusiastic stamping of feet which greeted William Jennings Bryan when he spoke in the hall in 1902 led a member of the faculty to warn the audience that this was dangerous; he said, "The building shows its age. Its woodwork and floors are becoming dry and lifeless." The Inlander also called attention in 1905 to the shaking of floor, seats, and gallery during a performance of "David Garrick" by Leland T. Powers.

After the completion of Hill Auditorium in 1913, old University Hall ceased to be the center of University gatherings. The Frieze Memorial Organ was moved to the new building in 1913-14, and the seating capacity of the old auditorium was restricted to 1,500. Six years later, it was reduced still more in size in order to provide six additional classrooms, and what remained was used for classes in dramatics. In 1930 further use of the auditorium was prohibited on the grounds of safety. Later, all of the first floor and much of the second floor of the building were used as general University offices. The old Chapel became offices for the Dean of Students and the Registrar, and the rooms once occupied by the President were incorporated in the University's business offices.

The structure was removed to make way for the new Mason Hall and Haven Hall additions in 1950.

The Professors' Houses. — The first houses on the campus were those belonging to the former occupants of the land. These, however, were removed, and the earliest University buildings to take their places were the four Professors' Houses, built at about the same time as, but shortly before, Mason Hall.

Twenty thousand dollars was appropriated in 1839 for "such buildings as the necessities of the University may at present require." These "necessities" were stated to be "four buildings for the use of the Professors of the University"; they were to be used also for the storage of the "Cabinet of Natural History, the Library, the Philosophical Apparatus and other general purposes of the University" until the "main buildings" could be finished. At this time the contract with Messrs. Davis and Thompson was canceled, and a new one was made with Mr. Thompson, as superintendent of building operations, which remained in force until August 14, 1839. In February, 1839, on Thompson's advice, the contract to erect the remaining two houses and to finish the two already begun was given to Harpin Lum.* July 1, 1840, was the date specified for their completion. The first payment on this contract was made to Mr. Lum on February 11, 1839, and the final settlement on November 12, 1840, but as only two warrants were drawn on this account after May 20 it is probable that most of the work was completed by the summer of 1840.

It is not known who drew the plans for the four Professors' Houses. They are not included in Davis' preserved papers and in style are quite unlike the buildings Page  1627which he actually designed. The Regents' Proceedings state simply that the Building Committee, on February 11, 1839, "presented a plan for the buildings directed to be constructed … which plan was adopted." Since Isaac Thompson was superintendent of building at this time, it seems likely that he may have made the necessary drawings; the houses resembled in some respects, notably their porticos, a style not infrequently found in his native state, Connecticut. Business connections appear to have existed between Mr. Thompson and Mr. Davis, and the latter, in turn, was associated with Ithiel Town, of New Haven. On the other hand, Harpin Lum was capable of drawing building plans.

The contracts which the building committee made for the erection of these houses amounted in each case to $7,712.50 or $30,850 for the four. Each afforded about 4,800 square feet of floor space and measured 36 by 44 feet in size. Attention was given by the Regents to their location as well as to many details of their construction.

On February 11 a resolution was adopted which directed that an avenue one hundred feet in width should be run through the center of the campus from north to south and that the Professors' Houses should be situated in pairs on either side of this avenue, two on the north and two on the south side of the grounds. This location was adopted, but the avenue was never actually laid out nor opened, and on November 26, 1839, the resolution was rescinded.

When the Professors' Houses were completed in the fall of 1840, one of them was used temporarily as a library. Wood-houses, cisterns, and barns were provided for each. The occupancy of the houses by the professors apparently began in 1840. One is referred to as Dr. Douglass Houghton's house as early as March of that year (R.P., 1837-64, p. 127). From 1840 until 1845, when Professor Joseph Whiting died, Professors Houghton, George Palmer Williams, and Whiting were the tenants; for the first three years one of the houses apparently stood vacant except as it may have been used for miscellaneous purposes. It was probably this house, in the basement of which the janitor, Patrick Kelly, was permitted to live, which in October, 1843, was rented to Governor Alpheus Felch and occupied by him until May, 1846. Mrs. Whiting continued in residence until May, 1846, when she left for Buffalo and the Agnews took over her house. Professor Whedon lived in the Felch house, probably, until 1852, when Erastus O. Haven succeeded him in its tenancy. In 1852 the four houses were occupied by President Tappan and Professors Williams, Boise, and Haven, respectively. Upon Haven's resignation as Professor in 1856, his place was taken by Professor W. P. Trowbridge, and from 1858 through 1860 by Professor Andrew D. White. Professor Frieze began his long tenancy of one of the University Houses in 1861, and Mr. James Clements, father of Regent William Lawrence Clements, rented another of them, at least in 1861-62. Others who lived in the houses at various times were Mrs. Helen E. Putnam and Professors L. D. Chapin, Alexander Winchell, G. B. Merriman, and Benjamin F. Cocker. It is difficult to determine the years of the various tenancies and impossible to designate here the specific house occupied by each individual.

The use of the Professors' Houses for other purposes was early discussed. In 1861 it was proposed to use one for hospital purposes and another to house the Law Department, and in 1869, it was proposed to use the northwest dwelling for instruction in engineering. These proposals were all rejected. In 1869, however, the northeast house was taken over Page  1628for use as a University Hospital. Additions were made to it, both at that time and later. In 1876 two wooden pavilions 114 by 30 feet were built onto the rear of the old house, and in 1879 an amphitheater, matron's quarters, and kitchen and dining room were added. It continued in use as a hospital until 1891. From 1891 to 1908 the School of Dentistry used this building until it was removed for the erection of the Chemical Laboratory in 1909-10.

From 1875 to 1877 another of the Professors' Houses, that to the northwest, was used as the first home of the School of Dentistry. An addition to this building also was made, and in 1879 it became the hospital of the Homeopathic Medical College. Thus, it was used until 1899, when, on the removal of the Homeopathic Hospital to new quarters, its wooden extension was taken over by the Department of Pathology for three years, thereafter, from 1903 to 1915, by the Department of Psychology. The southeast residence was occupied by the College of Dentistry from 1877 until 1891. In that year a large brick addition was made to the building, and for the next thirty years it was occupied by the School of Engineering and was known as the Old Engineering Building. It was torn down in 1921-22 to permit the erection of the Clements Library, the southeast corner of which falls upon the site of the old Professor's House.

The fourth Professor's House, the southwest one of the group, is the only one which throughout the years has preserved its original purpose. It is now, as it has been since the time of President Tappan, the President's House, although the many additions which have been made to it in the interval since its erection have changed its appearance. It was not until President Angell came in 1871 that a hot-air furnace was installed. The chief alterations, however, were the addition of a one-story kitchen wing in 1864, the library wing, designed by E. W. Arnold, in 1891, the sun room, sleeping porch, and a further extension of the kitchen wing, including a garage, at the time of President Burton's arrival in Ann Arbor in 1920, and in 1933, the study which was added at the northeast corner. The house as originally built was a square two-story structure. The President's House was lighted by gas from about 1858, when gas was first introduced in Ann Arbor, until 1891, when the house was wired for electricity.

The iron fence surrounding the grounds, erected during President Angell's administration, was removed during President Burton's occupancy of the house.