The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Fletcher Hall

Fletcher Hall, originally a men's dormitory on Sybil Street near the Intramural Sports Building, was erected in 1922-23 by a group of alumni, organized under Michigan state laws as the Dormitories Corporation. The group intended to finance a series of such dormitories, but the plan was never realized. One-half of the common stock in the corporation was to be held by the Alumni Association, thus giving it practical control of the building, and the first subscriptions were obtained with this understanding. Because the directors of the Association, however, were unwilling to assume this responsibility, an alumni committee was accordingly elected to serve as trustees of the building. Stock amounting to some $120,000 was sold.

Fletcher Hall was named in honor of the Honorable Frank W. Fletcher ('75e), who had been for many years a Regent of the University. The building, which has a floor area of 18,123 square feet, accommodated 124 students in double rooms. The corporation paid $5,800 for the site and spent approximately $115,000 on construction.

Difficulties in the management of the building developed almost from the beginning. The rooms proved too small for two students and the site of the building, which was some distance from the campus, combined with a lack of proper supervision, led to serious problems in social administration. It was also found necessary to lower the price scale until eventually a room could be had for as little as $2.50 a week.

In part as a result of this lowered income and in part because of the depression of the early 1930's the corporation eventually found itself unable to pay the bonds as they fell due. As a result of these financial and administrative difficulties the University in 1933 was practically forced to take over the building, which was acquired at a receivers' sale for less than $13,000, the University paying the back taxes and minor expenses of receivership.

Since that time, the management of the building has rested with the University. It was also found desirable to convert all rooms to singles and reduce the number of residents to fifty-eight, less than half the number which the original corporation had planned to accommodate. Extensive repairs were also necessary when the building became the property of the University. These included a complete renovation of the building and the construction of a suite of rooms for a director. The area in the basement originally used for a kitchen and dining room was made over into a lounge, recreation room, and a laundry. Separate contracts were let to replace all linoleum floors and to install weather stripping and fly screens at windows. By 1944 it became necessary to replace the plumbing lines and while that work was Page  1717being carried on the shower rooms and toilet facilities were remodeled and modernized. The work was done by the Plant Department. Between 1933 and 1940 all of the original furniture was replaced and built-in wardrobes replaced the freestanding old wooden wardrobes.

To complete the physical changes in the building, a major job of rehabilitation was undertaken in the summer of 1954. In an effort to provide more housing within the existing residence halls system a plan was worked out to convert the single rooms of Fletcher Hall into suites for three students, thereby increasing the capacity to eighty. In each pair of adjacent single rooms the door to the corridor from one was walled up and a door installed between the two rooms. Closet space was built into the inner room which became the bedroom, and the outer room was used for study. The toilet facilities were also expanded and a small kitchen, for the preparation of light meals, was constructed in a part of the recreation room. This work was accomplished by the Henry deKoning Company of Ann Arbor at an expense of $97,657. At the same time new furniture costing $16,132 was obtained for all the new suites. The valuation of Fletcher Hall as shown in June 30, 1955, was $130,226, and furnishings were valued at $28,928.

Fletcher Hall has provided low-cost housing from the time it was acquired by the University. Men occupied the building until the summer of 1943 when trainees of Armed Forces were quartered there for a period of one year. Men students returned to Fletcher Hall in the fall of 1944 and continued to use the building until the fall of 1954, when it was assigned to women because of the scarcity of women's housing. In planning for the rehabilitation of Fletcher Hall the use of the building was given prime consideration so that with a minimum of alterations it could be used for either men or women.