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Introduction

Origins

The City

Collegeville (1887, 1895)
College Delta (1898, 1899)
Oakwood (1899)
Cedar Banks (1900)
College Grove (1903)
Fairview (1904, 1905)
College Heights (1904)

Charter of 1907

Avondale (1913)
Bungalow Knolls (1916)
Chesterfield Hills (1916)
Ardson (1919)
Ridgeley Park (1921)
Strathmore (1925)
Glen Cairn (1926)

The Campus

Chronology

1855–1870
1871–1885
1886–1900
1901–1915
1916–1927

 

Interactive Map

Sites on the National and State Historic Registers

Complete list of
Significant Structures

Sources

Faculty Row

The community that ultimately became the City of East Lansing got its start on campus, in the form of a row of brick “cottages” built to house the college’s professors and their families. A total of ten houses were built along what is now West Circle Drive, with an additional house just north of the row. The eleven houses were built in three phases.

The first phase was built in the summer of 1857, a few months after the first classes commenced. Four houses were built, three in a row and one across the lane; they were designed by F. J. Scott and R. W. Bunnell of Toledo, Ohio.[Minutes, 23 Jul 1857, p. 27] When the second phase was complete they became known as № 4 through № 7, but prior to that they were simply known for the professions of their occupants. Bricks for these houses were made out of clay dug from the banks of the Red Cedar and fired in a temporary kiln that stood in the hollow between the river and the west entrance road (about where West Circle and Beal Entrance meet today).


Faculty Row, the early years. The President’s house (№ 7) is at left, facing №s 4-6 across the road. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.


Clockwise from top left, №s 4, 5, 6, and 7, circa 1913. № 7’s front porch was “added much later.” Photo Credit: Beal, pp. 32–35.

The second phase of construction occured in 1874, as the row was extended to the west by three more houses. At this time, the houses were numbered: № 1 through № 6 in a row, with № 7 across the road. The fanciest of these, № 1, was designed by famed Detroit architect Elijah E. Myers—creator of Michigan’s Capitol building, as well as those of Texas and Colorado—and stood on the present site of Gilchrist Hall. It served as the President’s House from 1874 until 1915.


Faculty Row № 1, late 1800s. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.


№ 2, circa 1913. № 3 was “of same style.” Photo Credit: Beal, p. 78.

The third phase came in 1884–85, extending the row for three more houses to the east. They stood about where the Human Ecology building is today, and at the time the entrance road was somewhat west of the current Abbot Entrance.


Left to right, №s 8, 9 and 10, circa 1913. Photo Credit: Beal, p. 78.

The numbering here is a bit confusing. Beal refers to these as №s 8 through 10, as in the photo caption above. However most campus maps use numbers 9 through 11, applying № 8 to Station Terrace, which stood neatly in the row just where one would expect it to be, between 6 and 9 (recall 7 is across the road).

An additional building, often overlooked because it stood north of the main row, was built in 1884. It is listed as № 14 on Newman’s map, a number which coincides with a mention in At The Campus Gate. (№s 12 and 13 were assigned to the two entrances of Howard Terrace.) This building was the college apiary prior to its conversion in 1893 into, appropriately enough, the residence of the Professor of Entomology.[Beal, p. 76. Kestenbaum, p. 117. 39th AR, p. 17]


№ 14, aka the “Dwelling for the Entomologist,” circa 1913. Photo Credit: Beal, p. 76.

Finally, Howard Terrace was built in 1888 at the east end of the row. This was a faculty residence hall “for use of small families.”[Beal, p. 87]

In his history of the campus park, Professor Harold Lautner reprinted a campus map and key from the college catalogue of 1899, which ennumerated the houses as assigned to the following faculty members:

№ 1
President
№ 2
Mathematics
№ 3
Zoology
№ 4
Mechanical Engineering
№ 5
Chemistry
№ 6
English
№ 7
Botany
№ 8
№ 9
Agriculture
№ 10
Horticulture
№ 11
Secretary
№ 14
Entomology
 
[Lautner, pp. 80–81]

By the dawn of the twentieth century, off-campus development had started to gain momentum, and there was no need for additional faculty housing to be built on campus. Faculty Row was gradually used for other purposes, and then almost totally obliterated. For example, the President’s house was converted into a dormitory for senior women in 1915, then housed the College Hospital from 1925 until 1939. In 1942 it was a women’s cooperative house known as Alice B. Cowles Hall—a name later applied to Faculty Row № 7.


Faculty Row № 1, c. 1940s. Note the replacement windows and truncated chimney.
Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.

In 1922 №s 2, 3 and 6 were vacated by their professors (H. K. Vedder, Civil Eng.; W. B. Barrows, Zoology; and W. W. Johnston, English) to be converted to housing for women students. E. A. Bessey and family also moved to their new off-campus home from № 7, which was given over to Board Secretary Halladay, who vacated № 11.[Minutes, 12 Jul 1922, pp. 456, 546]

The first houses to go were the last ones built. №s 10 and 11 and Howard Terrace were removed around 1922 to make room for the Home Economics building.

The Entomologist’s residence was razed some time before 1931, when Mary Mayo Hall was built in the vicinity.

In the mid-1940s, houses № 1 through № 5 were torn down and replaced with the West Circle residence halls of Landon, Yakeley, and Gilchrist.

The numbering confusion returns with regard to “the Taft house,” which apparently persisted in its position between Home Economics and the Union Memorial Building until the late-1940s. Kuhn writes that in 1921 “the Taft home, on the site of the present Union’s south entrance, was converted into a home management practice house.”[Kuhn, pp. 292-3] Kuhn is referencing what Beal called № 8—and which maps called № 9, the house for the Professor of Agriculture—as Levi Taft and his family resided there starting in 1909.[Beal, p. 271] A 1942 map specifically labels the remaining building as “Home Economics House № 8,” though by that time it housed the H.E. nursery school, as the home management practicum had moved to the old botany assistants’ residence adjacent to the greenhouses (razed 1955 for the Main Library). Although the south addition to the Union (completed 1949) does not occupy the site of the Taft house, which stood in the open space midway between the Union and H.E., it was removed as the Union expanded.[Kuhn, p. 85. Minutes, 21 Apr 1949, p. 2725. Dressel, p. 367]

Part of the confusion stems from the fact that the Minutes of the Board never refer to a house by any designation other than the name of its current occupant, which makes connecting the dots difficult at best. The 1920 U.S. Census is specific that Taft and his family were living in a house numbered 9, but this could just be a census taker’s convenience. (That survey is also the source for the claim that №s 12 and 13 were used for Howard Terrace.) There is no evidence that the houses ever had actual numbers on their doors, and certainly the post office would have had no trouble delivering mail in that small community. “H.E. House № 8” could be the house known today as № 9, which survived and was moved off campus, or it could be another house entirely. The answer remains unclear.

The final house to be demolished, № 6 survived until 1970, standing on the corner between Campbell and Landon halls. In 1922 it was given over to the M.A.C. Union.[Minutes, 19 Apr 1922, p. 534] Later, for a time it served as the International Center.[Kestenbaum, p. 3]

Only Faculty Row № 7 remains on campus today, in much modified form, as Cowles House.