The Three Wells Halls
All three versions of Wells Hall were named for Judge Hezekiah Griffith Wells (1812–1885), the first President of the State Board of Agriculture.
Judge H. G. Wells. Photo Credit: Beal, p. 342.
Wells Hall the First (1877—1905)
First Wells Hall. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.
After Saints’ Rest was destroyed in late 1876, the State Legislature granted a $25,000 appropriation to replace it. The result was this larger and much more elaborate design by architects Watkins & Arnold. The first Wells Hall was built in 1877 and was located to the south of College Hall, on a site now occupied by the east wing of the Main Library. The first Wells Hall met the same fate as the building it replaced, when it burned down on February 11, 1905.[Lautner, p. 46. Beal, p. 270]
First Wells Hall burns, 11 February 1905. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.
Second Wells Hall. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Physical Plant.
The second Wells Hall was designed by E. A. Bowd, who started working almost before the collapsed walls had cooled on first Wells. The board authorized a $55,000 appropriation and contracted with Chittenden & Skinner of Lansing to build it on the site of its predecessor.[Minutes, 30 Aug 1905, pp. 298–302] Construction began in 1906 and was completed the following year. It too was a student dormitory and consisted of six units, or wards, separated by brick partition walls that were intended as a means of fire prevention—a design that might have saved the building when nearby Engineering caught fire in 1916. Until the 1920s the dormitory lacked hot water, and men “warmed their shaving water by conducting steam through a rubber tube from the radiator.”[Kuhn, p. 325] Second Wells lasted until 1966, when it was demolished to make room for the new East Wing of the Main Library.
Second Wells Hall smoulders next to ruins of Engineering, 5 March 1916. Photo Credit: M.S.U. Archives.
Today’s Wells Hall is an office, classroom, and lecture hall building in the Brutalist style. It will not win any awards for design, but B-108 Wells is said to be the largest lecture hall on campus.