Bacteriology Laboratory — Marshall–Adams Hall (1902) SR
Bacteriology Laboratory, circa 1903. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Physical Plant.
The early years of bacteriology research at M.A.C. are closely tied to the man for whom this building is today named, Dr. Charles Edward Marshall (1866–1927).
Dr. C. E. Marshall. Photo Credit: Beal, p. 445.
C. E. Marshall joined the staff of the Experiment Station as bacteriologist and hygienist in 1896, a position he held until 1902. During this period, he somehow managed to find the time to secure a Ph.D. from the University (Ann Arbor) as well as to study abroad at the Pasteur Institute.[Beal, p. 445. Kuhn, p. 231]
Prodded by the combined urging of the state board of health, the state livestock commission, and the state Board of Agriculture, in 1900 M.A.C. formed the Department of Bacteriology and Farm Hygiene, one of the earliest in America. Dr. Marshall was appointed Professor and head of the department, a position he held until 1912. At first, the new department was housed on the second floor of the Veterinary Laboratory.[Beal, p. 105]
In 1902, the Department of Bacteriology and Hygiene (having dropped “Farm” from its name) received a state-of-the-art Bacteriology Laboratory, built at a cost of about $30,000. The lab, “reputedly the first building [in the United States] for research and teaching in bacteriology,” was designed by prominent Lansing architect Edwyn A. Bowd and built by Conrad Schaffer & Son of Saline. It was constructed of red stock brick (likely from the college’s brickyard) with white stone trim, and Michigan fieldstone piers supporting an entryway arch in Richardsonian Romanesque style. At the rear was an attached brick stable to house livestock under study. “On the inside [the walls] are made of plain white sand brick, the seams being filled, and the whole surface finished with two coats of zinc paint. Equipment is all of the most modern style.” It was located slightly east of the main laboratory row, between Horticulture and Botany, a site previously occupied by the Experiment Station Forcing House, a heated greenhouse.[Kuhn, pp. 212–213. Stanford, p. 59. Minutes, 26 Mar 1902, pp. 25–29. Beal, pp. 279–280. Lautner, pp. 80–81]
From these solid beginnings, Dr. Marshall created a world-class department. It “was the first to produce hog cholera serum in the state, distributing it to farmers,” the profits helping fund improvements to the laboratory—which was soon touted in the catalog as “one of the best equipped laboratories of its kind in the country.” In addition, the journal Microbiology, edited by Marshall, “was a standard text for many years.”[Kuhn, p. 231. Lautner, p. 102]
Charles E. Marshall left M.A.C. in 1912 for an appointment as graduate dean at Massachusetts Agricultural College (today, UMass Amherst). He was succeeded by Dr. Ward Giltner, who led the department for the next thirty-five years. The department remained in “Old Bact’y” until 1952, when it moved to the hall bearing Dr. Giltner’s name.[Beal, p. 445. Kuhn, p. 233]
Over the years, this Department might have had the greatest number of different names of any at Michigan State: Bacteriology and Farm Hygiene (1900), Bacteriology and Hygiene (1902), Bacteriology and Public Health (1943), Microbiology and Public Health (1954), Microbiology (1993). Since 2003 it has been known as the Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.[Microbiology Department History]
Like the other members of Laboratory Row, Marshall Hall is listed on the state historic register. It too has benefitted from adaptive reuse, in this case with the 1991 addition of a seminar room at the rear of the structure. Designed by the M.S.U. Physical Plant, the addition is intended to complement the original building’s round-headed windows. Marshall Hall now contains offices of the Department of Economics.[Stanford, p. 59]
Detail of Marshall Hall façade, Autumn 1992. Photo Credit: Kevin S. Forsyth.
In 2002, M.S.U. Trustee Randall L. Pittman (M.S.U. ’76) and his wife, Mary E. Pittman, made a $6 million donation to restore Marshall Hall, a project that modernized the building’s interior to improve both functionality and safety. Ornamental gardens both front and back added to the beauty of the site. The restoration was completed by Fall term, 2005, and the building was rededicated as part of Sesquicentennial festivities.
Due to their generosity the donors received the opportunity to append a name to the building. In a shining example of class and appropriateness, they chose to show their esteem for Mr. Pittman’s friend and mentor, the late Dr. Walter Adams (1922–1998), Distinguished Professor of Economics and President Emeritus.
Dr. Walter Adams, official portrait as M.S.U. President. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.
Walter Adams was born in Vienna, Austria, emigrating to the United States as a young man. He embraced his adopted country with unwavering patriotism, serving in World War II first with the 83rd Infantry Division and later with the 11th Armored Division, and was awarded the Bronze Star for heroic conduct. After the war he completed his Ph.D. at Yale before joining the M.S.C. faculty in 1947. He became a Professor of Economics in 1956, and a Distinguished Professor just four years later.
Following the retirement of John A. Hannah, Adams assumed the Presidency of M.S.U. on April 1, 1969. From the outset he declared he would only hold the post on an interim basis until a suitable replacement could be found, even though he soon proved to have a talent for the job. For nine short months he led the University through some of its most troubled times, handling student strikes and campus unrest with diplomacy and aplomb. In spite of his popularity with students, faculty, and the Board of Trustees—and a petition with 20,000 signatures begging him to remain as President—on January 1, 1970, Adams returned to his calling as Economics Professor.
As an economist, Walter Adams was widely respected. His Econ. 444 class was considered one of the most difficult and rewarding at Michigan State. Adams was tough but fair—always receptive to new ideas, while those caught unprepared or nodding off found him “a real bastard.”[Grebner, p. 3] Along with his extensive research he co-authored several books including The Bigness Complex: Industry, Labor, and Government in the American Economy, The Tobacco Wars, and Adam Smith Goes to Moscow. He also wrote an insightful memoir of his year as President called The Test.
Beyond academia, Dr. Adams was the ultimate Spartan fan. His vocal support of the basketball team from a seat behind the visiting team’s bench in Jenison Fieldhouse was legendary. He donated funds to the Spartan Marching Band for the purchase of several instruments including mellophones (one of which this author had the honor of playing for a season). For many years he donned a green Tyrolean hat (complete with green-and-white plume) and led the band in its traditional march to the stadium, and he was named an honorary member of the Spartan Marching Band—an elite and extremely limited group* who are the only non-members officially sanctioned to wear the "Michigan State Band" jacket.
Dr. Walter Adams and the author at Landon Field (now Walter Adams Field), 23 November 1991. This was my last game day in the Spartan Marching Band. In the background is Cowles House. Photo Credit: Gretchen Forsyth.
Walter Adams retired from M.S.U. in 1992. He succumbed to pancreatic cancer on September 8, 1998. On his last birthday, a few weeks before his passing, he was serenaded at his home by a 200-member contingent of the marching band, who played the fight song and sang the alma mater, “M.S.U. Shadows,” for a proud but tearful Adams and his wife, Pauline (Associate Professor Emerita of American Thought and Language). After his death, the former army cadet and marching band drill field west of Cowles House, from which the Spartan Marching Band steps off to begin each home football game’s march to the stadium, was renamed in his honor.