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Exhibit - Gone But Not Forgotten: Campus Buildings That No Longer Exist

Each building project adds to a constantly changing campus landscape. The evolution that led to the present campus has taken more than 150 years, with radical changes occuring occasionally from one year to the next. The following buildings represent various stages of this evolution.


College Hall

Built in 1856, College Hall was the first building in the nation erected for the instruction of scientific agriculture. It is believed to have been the first building constructed on campus, with six others following that year. These buildings were constructed on the site where Beaumont Tower now stands. College Hall was built as the school's principal building for classrooms, laboratories, and offices. It was the center for all classroom work until 1870.


Few public buildings have been so poorly constructed and plagued by defects that may have been the work of careless or dishonest contractors. College Hall's foundation rested on plank footings, and one corner of the basement wall enclosed a large stump. In 1918, students and alumni wishing to preserve College Hall as a landmark sought to rebuild the structure as a student union. The plans were dropped after workers found the walls to be hollow, bricks soft, and the foundation to be generally unstable.


One August day in 1918, as the National Anthem was being played by the band at a nearby war trainees retreat, the walls of College Hall began to collapse. 


Saints' Rest Dormitory

Built in 1856, Saints' Rest was the school's first dormitory and is believed to have been the second building erected on campus. The hall went by numerous nicknames including, "the hall," "the boarding hall," "old hall," and "the house." Saints' Rest, to which the hall was largely referred after it was destroyed by fire, was named for a religious book popularly read at the time.  The hall burned during the December 1876 vacation despite the efforts of the Lansing Volunteer Fire Co., which made the run in 45 minutes.


Faculty Row

At its height, Faculty Row comprised seven houses. These homes were built to house early faculty members and their families. Some of the university's first female students were residents of Faculty Row. Construction on the first four brick homes began in 1857. In 1907, East Lansing became a corporate entity as an extension of Faculty Row. By the 1940s, the growth of the university and its greater community made Faculty Row unnecessary. Demolition of these homes began in 1945 and continued through 1947. Only one structure, Cowles House, was spared. On the site of Faculty Row now stand Landon, Yakeley, and Gilchrist Halls.


President's House

Designed by Detroit architect E. E. Myers, the President's House was part of Faculty Row. It stood on the present site of Gilchrist Hall. During the years 1874-1915, the house was occupied by five university presidents and their families. Cowles House, known in the early years as the "farm cottage," served as the original president's residence from 1857 until the President's House was built in 1874. In 1915, the President's House was converted into a dormitory for senior women. It also housed the College Hospital from 1925-1939. From 1939 until it was razed on March 20, 1946, the building was used for a variety of purposes, including a home management practice house for home economics students.


Williams Hall

Named for President Joseph R. Williams and built in 1869 as a residence hall, Williams Hall promised room for students previously denied admission due to lack of residence facilities. Eighty students, including three boarding clubs, called the hall home, and the entire student body was served in the basement dining hall.


On January 1, 1919, fire consumed the 50-year-old structure. Fortunately, the hall was empty as Army trainees had just departed and regular students had not yet returned to campus. In 1937, a new Williams Hall was built.


Greenhouse and Botanical Laboratory

Designed by Lord and Burnham in 1873 and built in 1874, the greenhouse was part of William J. Beal's work complex. In the ravine beside the greenhouse, Beal planted his famous "wild garden" and on its west bank was a botanical laboratory and museum. The Botanical Laboratory, built in 1880, was destroyed by fire in 1890.  The greenhouse, which was demolished in 1955, contained rooms for plants as well as a gardener's room with an attached 26-square-foot potting shed.


Armory

In 1885, under Public Act No. 42 of Michigan, $5,000 was appropriated to build the Armory. Built by Fuller and Wheeler of Lansing, the Armory served the campus as a gymnasium, lecture hall and ballroom, with its primary function as a site for military drill activity. When the Armory opened in 1886, it had a tar and gravel floor. Aside from giving off a foul odor, the floor, when used for lectures, orations, and dances, badly soiled dresses. After a few years, a maple floor was laid. Demonstration Hall was built to replace the Armory, and in 1939 the structure was demolished.


Wells Halls

All three versions of Wells Hall were named for Hezekiah G. Wells, board president. Wells was responsible for saving the Morrill Land-Grant Act and for preventing the transfer of the university to the jurisdiction and site of the University of Michigan during the school's early years.


The first Wells Hall was built in 1877 as a dormitory that housed 130 students. It burned in 1905 and was replaced in 1907 by a larger dormitory structure that was sectioned off into six wards in order to reduce both the hazards of fire and the noise from so many students. In 1938, the second Wells Hall housed 200 students, a low occupancy rate for the dormitory.
During the 1966-67 academic year, the second Wells Hall structure was razed to make room for an addition to the Main Library. In 1968, at a cost of $5.4 million, construction started on the current Wells Hall.


Engineering Building

Built in 1907 and in use for only eight years, the Engineering Building was the most prominent building on campus when on Sunday morning, March 5, 1916, fire destroyed the structure and neighboring mechanical shops.
Professor Merton M. Cory kicked in the window to his basement office, building ablaze, and with the help of students, salvaged a few thousand dollars worth of mechanical equipment.


Ransom E. Olds preserved the university's engineering program when he donated $100,000 toward the reconstruction efforts after President Frank Kedzie made a personal appeal. The current R. E. Olds Hall, dedicated on June 1, 1917, was erected on the foundation of the former Engineering Building and was built to similar specifications.


Band Shell

A gift of the class of 1937, the Band Shell was constructed in 1938. The graduating students raised $2,447 towards the building project that cost $25,000 to complete.  The structure was used for commencement activities for the classes of 1938 and 1939, as well as numerous outdoor pep rallies and University Concert Band performances.  The Band Shell, which had replaced barns around Kedzie Hall, was razed in 1960 to clear land for the construction of Ernst Bessey Hall and the adjacent parking ramp.


Livestock Judging Pavilion

Built in 1938 as one of the nine Public Works Administration (PWA) building projects on campus, the Livestock Judging Pavilion was designed by Bowd-Munson Architects and built by the Christman Company. The PWA was responsible for large construction projects, including supplementing the cost of many public buildings. The Pavilion was used for numerous activities, including livestock judging. Its original purpose was made obsolete in 1996 with the development of the Pavilion for Agriculture and Livestock Education Center on Farm Lane. In May of 1997 the Livestock Judging Pavilion was razed and on its site now lies the parking lot on Shaw Road across from the International Center. Twelve pylons, made of alternating bands of limestone, concrete, and brick, mark the location, with two plaques commorating the legacy of the Livestock Judging Pavilion.


Quonset Huts

In 1945, approximately 30 acres of a poultry plant next to the Michigan State Police Headquarters were cleared to make room for a village of 450 trailers. Brought in from various Michigan towns' emergency war housing projects, they were used to shelter the growing student enrollment. The huts mostly housed returning veterans and their families, who were among the first married students to enroll at the university.


On the East side of Harrison Road, 104 steel quonsets were erected. Fourteen men slept in bunk beds at one end with a common room at the other end used for study and recreation. One oversized hut served as the housing community's cafeteria.


The students were joined by 50 faculty families in 31 quonset homes and 19 prefabricated houses. In March 1950, as dormitories such as Shaw Hall were built for men wanting campus housing, the quonsets were abandoned. Eventually married housing and university apartments met the housing needs of married students and families.


Paolucci Building/Home Management House

The Paolucci Building was constructed in 1947 to be used as the home management house for the School of Home Economics. The building, designed by Calder, contained kitchens, bathrooms, and living rooms.  Students lived in the building in six-week increments to learn the basics of housekeeping and how to manage a house on a budget. The Paolucci Building was named for Beatrice Paolucci, a faculty member in the College of Human Ecology who was twice honored by the university as a distinguished faculty member.

The compartmentalized structure of the building made is extremely difficult to be made accessible for persons with disabilities. The building was vacated in 2001 and in 2008 it was razed to make room for the construction of the new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum. 



Written by MSU Archives staff.
Exhibit created by Megan Badgley Malone.

Michigan State University Archives & Historical Collections

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