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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

Station Terrace (1892—1924)

Experimentation was a fundamental part of the Michigan Agricultural College from its founding, even more so when the Reorganization of 1861 “expressly provide[d] for agricultural experiments and for reports concerning them.” Subsequent legislation built on this premise: the Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862 provided “for the purchase of experimental farms, and for reports of experiments,” and in 1885 an act of the state legislature formally authorized M.A.C. to issue and distribute bulletins that reported the results of its experiments.

But it was the federal Hatch Act of 1887 that shifted agricultural research in the United States into high gear, when it provided $15,000 per year to each state that would create an agricultural experiment station as an adjunct to its land-grant agricultural college. On February 26, 1888, “the experiment station at the Michigan Agricultural College was organized under the provisions of the Hatch bill. Since then the experiment work which had been carried on by the College, has been conducted by the station.” In addition to its on-campus work, the Experiment Station operated numerous test sites around the state including substations at Grayling and South Haven.[31st AR (1892), pp. 168–170]

Thanks to its newfound funding and more unified status within the College, it became possible for the Experiment Station to provide housing for its research assistants. The result, Station Terrace, was designed by Edwyn Bowd—one of his earliest creations for the college, along with Old Botany—and built in 1892 at a cost of $3,500 in Experiment Station funds. It stood in the midst of Faculty Row between the homes of the Professor of English (№ 6) and the Professor of Agriculture (№ 8), about where the southern end of the current Abbot entrance median is today.[Minutes, 6 Apr 1892, p. 620. 33rd AR (1894), p. 19. MSU CAPBlog, 8 Sep 2016]


Streetcar waiting room (left) and Station Terrace (right), 1901. The following year, the waiting room was replaced by a larger “Post Office & Trolley Station.” View is from the south. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.

Station Terrace had rooms for approximately a dozen residents. As the majority of the researchers were unmarried men, the house was frequently referred to—in print, at least—as the “bachelors’ hall.” In conversation it was often known by its nickname: the “Bull Pen.”

On January 24, 1903, Station Terrace was severely damaged by fire caused by a defective chimney on the west end of the building. No one was injured, and although most of the damage was contained in the attic and the framing adjacent to the chimney, the building required extensive renovation. At the next meeting of the Board, Secretary A. M. Brown recommended conversion to a family house, and was tasked with investigating “the feasibility of fitting up Station Terrace so that it could be used by two families.” The Board “went as far as to have the college architect [Bowd] prepare a sketch for the remodeling, but ultimately decided that they would derive more revenue and benefit from restoring the building to its former state with several apartments.”[Minutes, 2 Feb 1903, pp. 116, 122, 127. MSU CAPBlog, 8 Sep 2016]

In the summer of 1910 a new addition was added to the west side of Station Terrace, and by 1912 the U.S. Post Office moved from quarters in the nearby trolley station and rented the entire first floor. This provided ample space for up to seven hundred post boxes, four customer service windows, and a separate sorting room to handle distribution of Experiment Station bulletins and other bulk mail. Upstairs, the Professor of Military Science and Tactics was assigned a pair of rooms, and the remainder were available to rent. At this point, given its main floor usage and that its upstairs residents were no longer exclusive to the Experiment Station, Station Terrace began to be more commonly known as “the post office.”[MAC Record, 16(1), 20 Sep 1910, p. 2. Minutes, 8 Mar 1911, p. 71]


Station Terrace aka Post Office, 1912. The pre-addition roofline is visible above the projecting gable. Note how the addition, toward the left, stands in place of the west chimney which had caused the 1903 fire. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.

In 1923 the Post Office’s lease expired and it moved to a storefront at 211 E. Grand River Avenue, where it remained until the Old Post Office on Abbot Road was built. This was in anticipation of a major campus beautification project the following year, when boulevards along the main highway (see “The Elms”) and a new, formal north entrance (now Abbot Entrance) were constructed. Along with the campus streetcar spur, built in 1897, several frame buildings stood in the path of progress including:

The old hospital and № 9 were moved off campus. The trolley station was torn down. Yet in the whirlwind of demolition and construction, it is not clear just what happened to Station Terrace. An M.A.C. Record article from July 1924 states, “the old car station has given way to the efforts of the wreckers, the music center and Y.M.C.A. have been dismantled and the old post office is next in line.” It is open to interpretation whether the author meant “next in line” to mean it was dismantled, or wrecked.[MAC Record, 29(34), 28 Jul 1924, p. 22]

At the Campus Gate and the East Lansing historic commission both contend that Station Terrace was moved to 291 Durand Street but for several reasons (discussed here) this author is skeptical.