The purchase of Alumnae House was a part of the larger movement toward residence halls which took form in an active campaign for funds by the Women's League. In 1914 the Detroit Association of University of Michigan Women launched a campaign to raise money for a women's residence hall at the University and the Women's League requested that the Detroit Association take over their fund begun for this purpose and raise the balance. It was hoped to reach a goal of $50,000.
Claire Mabel Sanders ('04), whose untiring efforts in the first drive to raise funds for Alumnae House were largely responsible for the success of the venture, was the first campaign manager.
At the time of World War I the Detroit Association voted to discontinue the campaign and recommended that the funds collected be used to purchase a house in Ann Arbor which could be organized on a co-operative basis, to aid self-supporting girls. As a result, in 1917, the house at 1227 Washtenaw, the former home of Professor Jacob Reighard, was purchased for $5,600, $2,000 to be paid down, the balance to be carried as a mortgage at 6 per cent interest. The property was deeded to the Regents under these conditions. The Detroit Association assumed the responsibility of meeting the interest on the mortgage and of paying it when due. It was first occupied by students in September, 1917, and the name Alumnae House was made official in January, 1918.
The extension of Forest Avenue in 1926 required removal of Alumnae House, and the girls living there were moved to the adjoining residence at 1219 Washtenaw, of historical interest as the former home of the late Judge Harriman. The building was renovated as a home for the sixteen residents, and the grounds were attractively landscaped. In 1944 the house was renamed the Mary Markley House.
The cost of the building was $16,000; the site, $27,523; and the equipment, $7,673, a total of $51,196. This property was to be used "definitely and permanently for the purposes of a residence hall for women," and it was stated that should the Alumni Association ever desire to erect a larger dormitory on the site they would be at liberty to do so. (For further history of the house see Mary Markley House.)