The University of Michigan, an encyclopedic survey ... Wilfred B. Shaw, editor.
University of Michigan.
Helen Newberry Residence

In the summer of 1913 the University received from Mrs. Henry N. Joy, Truman H. Newberry, and John S. Newberry a gift of $75,000 for the erection of a residence hall in memory of their mother, Helen Handy (Mrs. John S.) Newberry (R.P., 1910-14, p. 751). The money was given with the understanding that although the property would belong to the Student Christian Association, the hall would be built and administered by the University.

The following letter was written by Page  1718Shirley W. Smith, Secretary of the University, to Judge Lane on June 26, 1913:

My dear Judge Lane:

I take pleasure in giving you formal notice that at the meeting of the Regents held June 24th, the Regents accepted with gratitude the proposal of the Newberry Estate to furnish $75,000 for the erection of a women's dormitory under the conditions named in your communication to the Board…

The building site fronted on Maynard Street touching the northwest corner of the lot on which Newberry Hall stands, and directly west of land owned by the University, fronting on State Street. In March, 1914, the Regents granted permission for the use of a strip of land not to exceed fifteen feet, out of the University's lot just mentioned, and the dormitory, as built, stands upon this land to that extent. In March, 1915, the trustees of the Student Christian Association proposed to deed Newberry Residence to the University, to be operated as a residence hall for women, with the attached condition that the net income from its operation, after paying operating expenses and upkeep, should be paid to the Student Christian Association for the maintenance of its work for the women of the University. The deed, filed with the Regents in June, 1915 (R.P., 1914-17, pp. 186-88) set forth these conditions and provided that a breach of them would entitle the Student Christian Association to a reconveyance of the property. Thus, the University held title to a building built partly on its own land and partly on land acquired for the dormitory, the profits from the operation of which were to be paid over to the Student Christian Association. Such a set of conditions with the best of good will on both sides could not help but give rise to misunderstanding.

Newberry Residence was operated by the University from the summer of 1915, and after the first year heat and electricity were furnished. In the meantime Newberry Hall was used less and less for Student Christian Association purposes, and in 1921 it was rented to the University to provide classrooms. Lane Hall had been built and was the center of most of the Student Christian Association activities. Negotiations were opened in December, 1921, with a proposal by the trustees of the Student Christian Association to sell Newberry Hall to the University. In June, 1922, the Secretary was directed to take steps to see that the terms of the gift of the Residence were complied with as from the date of the gift, and the Regents declared that they could not, in view of the state of the University's funds, accept a proposal made by the Student Christian Association for settling the matter.

In the spring of 1924 (R.P., 1923-26, pp. 196, 219) a new committee was authorized to conclude negotiations. The agreement provided for payment of $25,000 on or before June 30, 1925, with interest, by the University, in return for which the University received full ownership of Newberry Residence, and the Student Christian Association relinquished entirely its interest in the earnings of the building. The University also received a strip of land one rod wide, of considerable value, running along the south side of its land on State Street in front of Newberry residence; this strip also bounds the Newberry Hall lot on the north.

Kahn and Wilby, of Detroit, were the architects for the residence, and the C. H. Christman Co., of Lansing, was given the general contract. The total cost of the building and land, in addition to approximately $12,000 for furnishings, amounted to $75,000.

The residence accommodated seventy-nine girls until the middle 1940's, and Page  1719more women were housed each year until by 1954 the number was 118. In 1953 some of the rooms were remodeled to care for the additional numbers. The work was done by the Henry deKoning Company, of Ann Arbor, for $27,966. New furnishings were purchased for the rooms at a cost of $6,643.

Helen Newberry Residence, which is across the street from Angell Hall, faces State Street but is separated from it by landscaped lawn. It comprises four floors and a basement and has a floor area of 29,166 square feet. The building, of hollow tile construction, is semifireproof and has a white stucco exterior. The entrance was originally at the center of the building, and a reception room and a lounge were at either side of the hallway which led to the dining room. These rooms were arranged so that the doors could be opened for receptions and dances. In 1934, when the building was remodeled, the main entrance was moved to the north side opposite the central staircase, and a sun porch was constructed across the front of the building. The guest room at the right of the new entrance was taken over by the assistant to the director in 1950. The office across the hall serves as a post office and contains a switchboard for Helen Newberry Residence and Betsy Barbour House. The first floor also contains a director's suite, an office, two student rooms, the dining room, and an open porch on the south sometimes used for sun-bathing. A well-arranged serving kitchen and a suite for the dietitian are at the rear of the building.

In the basement are the kitchen, a staff dining room, the laundry, a storage room, a recreation room, and two suites for staff members. The building has twenty-five single rooms, forty-five double rooms, and one triple room on the second, third, and fourth floors. A new elevator was installed in 1937. In 1940 new fixtures were provided, and tile walls and floors were laid.