advertisement

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

The “Half-way Stone”

Long before the days of asphalt and automobiles, the journey between downtown Lansing and the M.A.C. campus was arduous and wearisome at best. What today is Michigan Avenue was a dirt track with occasional corduroy (horizontally laid logs) to prevent wagon wheels from sinking into the mire. When it was dry, the ride was bumpy and dusty; in wet weather it all turned to mud.

In these conditions, something as simple as a granite boulder can take on significance, particularly when it happens to stand almost exactly midway between the Capitol and the campus gate. Thus was the “Half-way Stone” christened, and it served as a convenient rest stop for many a tired student traveller. It was considered such a sufficiently important landmark that the Board of Agriculture dispatched Professor Beal in 1888 to ensure that it would be kept in place, “buying it if necessary to that end.” (The landowner said “he would not sell the stone nor permit its removal.”)[Minutes, 7 Feb 1888, p. 538; 28 Feb 1888, p. 540] In the 1880s and early ’90s it was also the eastern terminus of the Michigan Avenue streetcar line.

Some time around the earliest days of the College, a wild cherry pit was deposited by chance in a small cleft in the rock. In spite of the harsh growing conditions, the cherry pit sprouted, rooted, and thrived. By the turn of the twentieth century, the inexorable force of the living tree had riven the rock asunder, and the broken granite acquired its second nickname: the “Split Rock.”[Towar, pp. 1–3]


Split Rock and cherry tree, circa 1913. Photo Credit: Beal, p. 310.

In 1924, in anticipation of the Michigan Avenue road widening, the Half-way Stone was broken up and removed from its original resting place, approximately where the eastbound lanes of Michigan Avenue meet Kipling Boulevard today. Appropriately, two large pieces were taken to the opposite ends of the journey: one was placed on the Capitol lawn, the other was placed near the southwest corner of the newly completed Union Memorial Building, where a cherry tree was planted nearby.[Stanford, p. 46]


“The Half-way Stone” and cherry tree, with the Union beyond. August 2006. Photo Credit: Kevin S. Forsyth.

Affixed to the on-campus fragment is a plaque containing a stanza of poetry by Frank Hodgman (M.A.C. ’62, author of the basic guide Manual of Land Surveying, and the first president of the Alumni Association) from his 1898 collection The Wandering Singer and His Songs. The poem, a lengthy reminiscence on his days at M.A.C., was titled “Forty Years Ago.”[Kuhn, pp. 121, 130. Beal, p. 311]

When half the toilsome way was passed, we rested by the stone
Within whose cleft a cherry pit had taken root and grown;
The cleft was not so very wide; just half an inch or so;
The little tree scarce touched its side some forty years ago.

Other portions of the Split Rock were taken by the removal contractor, Mr. Fay Dunning, and “used in the construction of the archway and chimney of his residence at the corner of Grand River Avenue and Durand Street.”[Towar, p. 3] Sadly, this house “was demolished in 1969 to make way for a short-lived ‘Tijuana Taco,’” and the remaining fragments of the Half-way Stone were lost.[Kestenbaum, p. 5]