Abbot Hall (1888—1968)
Abbot Hall, circa 1934. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Physical Plant.
The hall was named for Theophilus Capen Abbot (1826–1892). Dr. Abbot joined M.A.C. as Professor of English from 1858 to 1866. He then became acting Secretary of the Board of Agriculture, a position he effectively held until 1871. Concurrently—and most importantly—he was third President of the College from 1862 until 1884. During his long and distinguished tenure, he guided the growth of the school through difficult times, and “showed an eye single to the grand object for which the College was established. Nothing could swerve him from a course which should ever keep in view the aid and promotion of agriculture.”[Beal, pp. 50, 388–390]
Dr. T. C. Abbot, third President of M.A.C. (1862–1884).
Photo Credit: Beal, p. 50.
Abbot Hall was designed in a “modified colonial style” by William Appleyard of Lansing, who had previously created the Library–Museum. The builders were Cleveland & Yard of Flint. The two-story, red brick hall was located just east of the Armory and Faculty Row № 7, on the edge of the “sacred space.”
With the advent of the Divison of Home Economics in September 1896, Abbot Hall was given over exclusively to female students, housing forty in dormitory rooms and including a sewing room and cooking laboratory in a new second-floor addition to the rear wing. The male former residents were left to find lodging in Williams, Wells, or beyond the school grounds. This residential shift was the first impetus toward the development of off-campus housing for students, a trend (encouraged by the College) that turned predominant by the early 1920s.[Beal, pp. 271–272. Kuhn, p. 220]
The women left the hall in 1900 upon the completion of Morrill Hall, returning it to men’s use for the next twenty years, but the hall was reoccupied by coeds in 1920. Following the construction of Mary Mayo Hall for women in 1931, and the Music Department’s move to its new building in 1940, Abbot Hall turned into the Music Practice Building. By that time, the Abbot name had already been reapplied to one half of the Mason–Abbot residence hall complex.[Kuhn, pp. 221, 325]
In the early 1940s, alumni persuasion had preserved the old Abbot Hall for reuse, but by the late 1960s, sentimentalism had given way to pragmatism. The building was torn down and replaced with the plain, functional high-rise of the current Music Practice building.[Kuhn, p. 352. Stanford, p. 50]