Posts tagged: feature
This is a partial repost of my article from last year’s rivalry week. I bring it back to remind us all of how much this university has fought for its existence through the years and to bring some background knowledge of the rivalry itself outside of athletics. Michigan State has often been seen as the “underdog” and, psychologically, this seems to be deeply embedded in our rivalry. I know that many students and alumni, myself included, can become impassioned to the point of being enraged on this topic and I just want everyone to know - this is an incredibly complex issue that is not just deeply engrained in the culture of both schools, but also our state. It’s good to get an understanding of just what’s at play here - I think it will make you even more passionate.
Whether we win or lose this weekend, we know that our university is great, our university is strong, and we have defied the odds to become a world-renowned institution with incredible programs and opportunities for its students.
Remember that the next time a Walmart Wolverine insults your education on Facebook.
While U of M and Ohio State’s rivalry can be attributed to the tiny war for the Toledo Strip (which ultimately delayed our statehood and gave us the glorious Upper Peninsula), the rivalry between Michigan State University and the University of Michigan may not have been sparked by an actual war - but it certainly feels like one when looking at the early history of MSU.
- From the beginning, the University of Michigan was adamantly opposed to the existence of Michigan State, seeing it as a threat to their monopoly of the collegiate education system in the state. When an agricultural college was proposed by the state, U of M repeatedly attempted to claim the college for itself despite the evidence for the need for a separate institution.
- While MSU was the pioneer land grant institution and the model for the Morrill Act of 1862, U of M attempted to receive our funding from the Act itself. Since it couldn’t necessarily lay claim to it on its own, U of M proposed a merger of the two schools in 1863…and 1865, 1867, and 1869, attempting bribes and actually delaying our progress and growth as a school due to the constant jeopardy we found ourselves a part of.
- When the original Engineering Building burnt down in 1916, Michigan State was hard-pressed to afford another building to replace it. Using pure logic…U of M felt the need to inform us that we shouldn’t rebuild…because they could just take over ALL engineering majors for the state. Clearly there was no need for competition. Michigan State fought back…holding classes wherever they could and thanks to Ransom Olds, rebuilding an exact replica of the original building (today’s Olds Hall, the first building on campus to be named for a person).
- Lastly, when Michigan State was finally attempting to achieve university status (despite actually functioning as a university for years)…U of M fought us on the pure fact that the names would be too “confusing.” There is also evidence to argue that they opposed our entrance to the Big Ten Conference, which took place in the same few years.
So…believe it or not, this has a lot less to do with football and a lot more to do with over 150 years of oppression. U of M fans are always digging up the past to argue and we can certainly do so as well.
Expect some more rivalry posts this week, take it easy, and as always - GO GREEN!
Gilchrist Hall was the final dormitory built in West Circle. In 1948, it was added on to Yakeley Hall (making it essentially one and the same) but to this day Gilchrist has kept its own identity. Whether it’s the distinctively uneven floors between the two halls, the presence of honors housing, or the fact that it has male students, Gilchrist has many unique attributes that separate it from Yakeley. Perhaps it’s best to think of them as very independent Siamese Twins.
Perhaps most notable, the Gilchrist Pub was in fact once a full-functioning grill that served hamburgers and fries to students and was considered the coolest hang-out space in West Circle for many years.
So, who was Maude Gilchrist? Our final West Circle lady has perhaps one of the most impressive resumes.
Maude grew up in Iowa. When her father became the first president of Iowa State Normal School (now the University of Northern Iowa) in 1876, she was admitted as the first female student. This would be only the start of her life-long commitment to both learning and educating.
After becoming the first woman to graduate from her father’s school, she became an instructor there in math and science. While in that position, she organized and led a gymnastics club, considered one of the early attempts of organized women’s sports at the collegiate level. After leaving Iowa, she would go on to teach at Wellesley, the University of Goettingen in Germany, and the Illinois Women’s College, as well as obtain additional degrees at the University of Michigan and Harvard. She would meet Dr. Charles Bessey at Iowa Agricultural College while studying prairie plants and eventually join him at the Michigan Agricultural College.
At MAC, she became the Dean of Women, a fairly new position at the time (1901). She taught courses in ethics and most notably taught the first courses offered in education. Occasionally, she would fill in as a botany instructor if needed. Overall, her 12 years at MAC left the program much stronger than it had been at her arrival. Enrollment in the Women’s Course increased by 125% and the curriculum offered became more challenging.
In almost a parabolic path, she would return to her teaching position at Wellesley after leaving MAC and eventually end up back in Iowa, with a position at Iowa State College. She lived to be 90 years old and for the majority of her life was either attending or working at a college or university.
There is also a Gilchrist Hall at her original alma mater, the University of Northern Iowa. It is named for her father and serves as the Administration Building, honoring her father’s work as the first president of their school.
She is pictured below in the first row, second to the right, with the 1907 female graduates. Another notable figure in this photograph is Myrtle Craig, the first female African American graduate.
The next building constructed was Landon Hall, built in 1947.
The first female instructor at the college, Linda Landon primarily served as the librarian for 41 years, holding the post from 1891 until 1932. When Landon became librarian, the library was held in Linton Hall, which also served as the administration building. She was overlooking a mere 15,000 volumes. Just two years after the end of her reign as librarian, this number would reach 100,000. (Of course, to put this in perspective, today we have over five million volumes.)
Through her hard work and expansive collection, the library outgrew Linton Hall and she helped to initiate the opening of a new building exclusively designed to be a library. This building is the current MSU Museum, which opened in 1925. Equally impressive, the collection of books would outgrow this building even faster and would be replaced in 1955 with the current library we know today. In order to move the books across the street to the new building, students made a human line between the two and passed them over by hand, bucket brigade style.
Through her tenure, Landon was known and loved by all students and in 1912, the yearbook was dedicated in her honor. They described her as “that amiable, pleasant little lady in black who more than anyone else has been tutoring thousands of students in the art of appreciating, loving, and valuing these true friends in life - books.”
After doing a feature on Case Hall (and James Madison College), it seems only natural to follow up with a feature on its counterpart - Holmes Hall, home to the Lyman Briggs College.
While Case was named for a football player who had very little direct impact on the university, Holmes is quite the opposite. John Clough Holmes is a man who’s history with MSU dates back to before the school was even in existance.
In fact, we have John Clough Holmes to thank for our existance.
A member of both the State Board of Education, he helped found the Michigan State Agricultural Society, a group passionate about establishing a state-funded agricultural college. As previously mentioned, there was quite a bit of opposition from the University of Michigan higher-ups about establishing a separate school in the first place, but John Holmes wouldn’t give up. Paying out of his own pocket, he traveled all over the state to get the signatures needed on his petition and after doing so, took it straight to the capitol steps as a lobbyist. He urged both the Michigan Senate and House of Representatives to support his cause and on February 12, 1855, the Agricultural College of the State of Michigan was officially established.
But Holmes didn’t stop there. He and a team of surveyors scoped out potential sites for the new college, looking at plots of land in Haslett, DeWitt, and Holt but decided instead to purchase a 677 acre farm from a man named Burr and establish their college just three miles from the capitol in Lansing, which at the time was pretty much in the middle of nowhere.
After picking out the land, Holmes determined the buildings that would needed, where would they go on the plot of land, and some say even went so far as to do the interior decorating (which at the time really just meant picking where the chairs and tables should go in each room). He was the first treasurer of the university and served on and off as the head of the Horticulture Department until 1861, when a somewhat unexplained change seems to have occurred and Holmes left the faculty for good. However, he would still visit from time to time. In fact, President Theophilus Capen Abbot (yes, that was in fact Abbot’s name) remarked that Holmes was “a not infrequent and always welcome visitor at the college, and one of its warmest friends,” and that “”to no one man is the College so much indebted as John Clough Holmes.”
In 1965 Holmes Hall was built and named in his honor. Today it stands as the residence hall with the single greatest amount of students on our campus and the home to the Lyman Briggs College, which was founded in 1967. A residential college for those interested in careers in science, often pre-professional, Briggs offers the unique opportunity to take classes right where you live and have all the resources needed right at your fingertips.
Now, who was Briggs?
Lyman James Briggs grew up on a farm in Michigan and entered the Michigan Agricultural College at the age of 15. Originally he intended to study agriculture, but became more interested in mechanical engineering and physics. He graduated in 1893 and joined the US Department of Agriculture in 1896 at just 22 with a Masters already under his belt as well.
Briggs married fellow MAC graduate Katherine Cook that same year and they had a daughter named Isabel. Isabel would go on to marry a man named Clarence Myers. Together, Isabel Myers and Katherine Briggs developed the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (that personality test that gives you coded results like INFJ or ESTP).
Lyman Briggs himself assisted in many aspects of federal development, becoming actively involved in research and development for both World Wars. He led FDR’s secret “Uranium Committee” but also kept time on the side for research projects that sparked his own interests - such as examining the make-up of baseballs and how they affected pitching. Briggs was one of the most well-known scientists of his day.
Certainly, much can be said about both Holmes and Briggs, both men who exemplified the Spartan spirit of hard work and dedication.
For pretty much as long as this blog has been in existence, people have been asking me to do a feature on Case Hall.
So here we are. Finally.
Case Hall was built in 1961 and was constructed during the rapid expansion era that our university (and its residence hall system) experienced post-WWII. John Hannah, president at the time, would simply build a residence hall, fill it with students, and then use their tuition to build another. This cyclical process went on for 20 years, starting with Snyder-Phillips in 1947 and ending with Holden in 1967. It also resulted in our student population expanding from 15,000 in 1950 to 38,000 just 15 years later in 1965.
As for Case itself, it was one of the first residence halls to be co-ed on campus - though it’s hard to believe now that making North Case for women and South Case for men actually caused a stir among parents.
Now, who was Case, you may ask?
Albert H. Case graduated from Michigan Agricultural College in 1902 and was actually captain of the football team during his time here.
After MAC, Case pursued a Masters in Mine Engineering from Columbia. In 1906, he married Sarah B. Avery (another MAC alum). He held prominent positions in the mining industry throughout the rest of his life and was given an honorary doctorate in engineering from his alma mater in 1945. On top of this, Michigan State named a residence hall in his honor in 1961. He died one year later.
So who knows? Perhaps one day when we visit our grandchildren on campus they’ll be living in Cousins Hall.
Case Hall is perhaps most notably known today as being the home to the James Madison College, a residential college for students interested in public policy. JMC was founded at the same time as Lyman Briggs (1967) and has about 1200 students currently enrolled in its rigorous program. Freshman are required to live in Case Hall and experience all that a residential college can offer - classrooms, offices, and resources all under the same roof as your dorm room.
One Last Freaky Fact
In the spring of 1979, a student named James Dallas Egbert III (who just so happened to be a 16-year-old child prodigy) attempted to commit suicide in the steam tunnels under Case Hall. He wasn’t successful, but his subsequent disappearance did create a media hoopla, with the State News leading an extensive investigation into the Case Hall resident’s world. You can read more about the strange tale and how it somehow relates to Dungeons and Dragons here and here.
Demonstration (or “Dem”) Hall has a long history with the ROTC on campus. It was originally built in 1928 as a replacement to the Armory (which stood where the Music Building is today) and was designed primarily for military drills…as well as livestock exhibitions
It also has an equally long history with the Spartan Marching Band. How did these two entities come to share this space? Simple - for much of its early history, the SMB functioned as a part of the ROTC and operated as a military band. Though it eventually became its own organization, it has retained its place in Dem along the ROTC to this day.
In 1930, Dem became the venue for Spartan Basketball, which was just becoming popular on campus. Unfortunately, due to this increasing popularity, the basketball fans outgrew the venue quickly and the program was moved to Jenison Field House just ten years later.
However, another sports team would soon take its place. From 1949 until Munn Ice Arena was built in 1974, Dem Hall would serve as the home for MSU Men’s Hockey. Perhaps the most notable game that took place during this time was when the MSU team took to the ice against the Detroit Red Wings in 1958.
Today Dem may look a bit like a deserted old cigar factory from certain angles, but its former ice arena is home to many an intramural soccer game and even the occasional roller derby event. It still houses the ROTC and the Spartan Marching Band, though they no longer have to worry about livestock demonstrations getting in the way of their practices or drills.
As most of you know, Morrill Hall’s days are numbered.
Built in 1900, Morrill Hall was the result of the new Women’s Course that had recently been created with the help of Mary Mayo. Although female students had been attending the college since 1870, numbers were remarkably low due to two significant factors. The first was that there was no female housing. The college could only find so many faculty members to take the women into their homes during the school year. The other issue was that agriculture was the only program until 1885 (when engineering was added) and not many women were interested in the limited courses available.
After 25 years of women attending the school, only 24 had actually graduated with degrees. It was 1895 and MAC was struggling to maintain its student population and its reputation. Something needed to be done.
In the fall of 1896, 42 women entered the trial program in old Abbot Hall . It was an instant success and the decision was made for the program to have its own building. Morrill Hall cost $95,000 to build and included state-of-the-art kitchen laboratories and sewing rooms among other instructional facilities. The women would also be able to live comfortably in the same building, with their own dorm rooms, lounges, gymnasium, and cafeteria. There was even a pond and garden area where the parking ramp stands today, known as “the Lagoon,” complete with an island in the pond to picnic.
The Women’s Course was a five-year-program which consisted of cooking, sewing, human nutrition, household management, home nursing, and house architecture. The home economics courses were extremely popular and as attendance expanded, Morrill was able to house up to 120 students as well as all faculty. Faculty members’ rooms were strategically placed near the fire escapes to prevent the girls sneaking out at night after their strict curfews. Despite it all, it was said that bringing women to the college was a success for the men as well - as their manners and personal upkeep improved dramatically as the amount of eligible women on campus increased. These men would refer to the Women’s Building as “The Coop,” because all of the “chicks” lived there.
As the Women’s Course continued to thrive, the Home Economics (now the Human Ecology) building was built next door to provide more classrooms and the buildings of West Circle (including the one named for Mary Mayo) were opened to house more female students. In 1937, Morrill Hall was officially given its current name (pressure had been on the school to name it Morrill for years, but they worried that its synonym “Moral” may have only fueled the male students more). At that time, it was also converted to fit its current use - providing a home to several different liberal arts departments (today it houses the offices for History, English, and Religious Studies).
In the years since then, Morrill Hall has shown signs of its age in many ways - from a 480 sq. ft. portion of the basement ceiling collapsing in 1991 to the bats and cockroaches living in its wooden frame. Many of its most decorative aspects are long deteriorated and English professors haphazardly arrange their piles of books in the hopes that they can balance out the tilting floors without another collapse. A few years ago, Morrill Hall was slated for demolition and as of now, the planned date of its take-down is March 2013. By this time, all of the current offices will be moved to the new expansion in Wells Hall.
What are the plans for the empty area in old campus? A park was the first thing proposed, adding to the already expansive green space nearby, but recent news has seemed to indicate it may be another Morrill Hall, this time built to house the numerous foreign languages (over 30) in one place.
Although Morrill Hall will soon be gone forever, the Women’s Course and the building that was its home for so many years will always be a part of MSU’s history.
- Among all of the previously mentioned problems, one of the main issues surrounding Morrill is its sinking foundation. However, any and all claims that those windows that currently sit just above the ground were once the windows of the first floor should be laughed down.
- Another claim is that the reason the hallways are so wide is because of the women’s fashions at the time - with hoopskirts they had to be able to pass each other in the halls. This is adorable and the kind of fact people love, but it also unfortunately doesn’t have much stock in reality.
It’s an established fact that a graduating class will raise money to present the university with a class gift. Notable class gifts that still stand today at our campus include “The Rock” (Class of 1873) and the previously mentioned drinking fountain for horses (Class of 1900).
However, the Class of 1937 was ambitious. Perhaps a bit too ambitious.
They decided their class gift would be a band shell, which would cost about $25,000 to complete.
But then again, perhaps they weren’t so ambitious at all.
Out of the $25,000 needed to build the structure, the class raised a total of just $2,447.
Somehow, it was built in 1938 despite this fact.
In its glory days, the band shell was the place to be for concerts, pep rallies, and commencement ceremonies. Designed by O.J. Munson, the structure was composed of several concentric arches that formed an Art Deco half-dome, complete with lighting for night performances and events.
Despite its popularity as a venue, the band shell would only survive for 22 years. Due to the increase in demand for classrooms and parking on north campus, the place where the band shell once stood is the location of both Bessey Hall and its adjacent parking ramp today. A commemorative plaque and historical marker indicate its previous location along the Red Cedar for any who pass through that area unaware of what once took place there.
Snyder-Phillips Hall, known to current students as the home of the Residential College of Arts and Humanities (RCAH), has only been in its current form for a handful of years.
Originally, Snyder-Phillips was built in 1947 near Mason-Abbot (1938) and designed to be its sister hall. This makes it the last residence hall on campus to be built in the traditional Collegiate Gothic style.
Nothing particularly noteworthy occurred in the early days for the hall, but in 1965, all that would change. Justin Morrill College, the first residential college at MSU, was focused on interdisciplinary liberal arts education.
However, with the many artistic, counter-cultural, and liberal-minded students all together under one roof, it didn’t take long for Snyder-Phillips to start bringing in some attention. The late 60s and early 70s were a time of rebellion and innovation at many universities, MSU very much included. There is, of course, much to say about that era, but I’d like to focus on one specific incident.
In 1969, many students at Justin Morrill College became vocal in their desire for co-ed housing. At the time, some dorms were “co-ed” but only in the understanding that perhaps North Case was girls and South Case was boys. In the same vein, Snyder was the male half and Phillips was the female half of Snyder-Phillips. In fact, at the time, they were considered to be separate residence halls in almost every way, with doors that locked at night between the two entities.
In 1970, a committee was established by President Wharton and was made up of five students and five members of university staff. The group presented a long report that recommended the re-establishment of Snyder-Phillips as a single residence hall and the instating of co-educational living by floor or wing.
At the announcement of the passage of the proposal, the men of Snyder Hall rioted and forcibly tore down the doors between Snyder and Phillips, historically known as the “liberation of Phillips.” For over 30 years after, the marks from the doors’ hinges were still visible on the frames of those doorways, finally removed during the renovations in 2006-2007.
This instance, as well as several others of its kind, define the Justin Morrill College era in Snyder-Phillips history. The residential college would be disbanded in 1979, but it appears they have an extremely passionate alumni base that keep a very detailed website, which includes gems like a photo gallery of publicly posted drug dealer ads that were often displayed on the Snyder-Phillips bulletin boards in that era.
After a couple of decades as a standard residence hall, the idea of using the space for a residential college was revisited. With some consultation from the alumni of Justin Morrill College, the Residential College of Arts and Humanities concept was formed. Though slightly different from the former, the latter does share many of the same characteristics.
Though the RCAH was initially planned to be named the Nelson Mandela College of Arts and Humanities, the university decided to wait for the college to take hold before giving it a namesake. With their first graduating class received their diplomas this past May, the RCAH can now begin to see where their program will take its students in the real world.
Once the decision was made to form the RCAH, Sny-Phi needed to be renovated to fit its new needs. Its closure for the 2006-2007 school year allowed it to undergo extensive renovations (which were detailed in a construction blog by the university). After the Gallery (now the model for all new cafeterias on campus) opened its door, the cafeteria in Mason-Abbot closed permanently. The two dining areas were converted into study space and the kitchens are left empty. However, some freezers remain in use as storage for the Gallery.
Another notable change is the fact that Dormitory Rd. used to run between Mason-Abbot and Snyder-Phillips and was turned into the green space (and room for a controversial statue) that now exists in the courtyard between the two.
Today, Wells Hall is the largest academic building on campus (and still expanding). However, the Wells Hall you’ve probably had a class in at some point in your MSU career is actually the third hall to bear that name.
The first Wells Hall was built in 1877, a year after the college’s first dormitory (now known as Saints’ Rest) burnt down. Wells Hall became the main dormitory on campus and stood where the Library stands today. It looked totally different than our current Wells Hall. Take a look:
Unfortunately, this building met the same fate as its predecessor in 1905:
Construction began on a replacement right away and the second Wells Hall opened in 1907. With the aforementioned fires by far not the only ones in that era, much more attention was put into fire-proofing this time around. In fact, that may have been what saved it when the former Engineering Building next door burnt down in 1916.
This Wells Hall lasted until 1966. The Library was expanding (at that point it was only the “loud” half where the Sparty’s is located) and the decision was made to take down Wells to add on to the Library.
Campus now spread much further south than it had in 1907. With so much construction on the other side of the river, the third Wells Hall was built in a new location almost perfectly centered in this new expansive campus.
Today, Wells Hall is home to three large wings. The A wing holds the Math Learning Center as well as many offices. The C wing holds three stories worth of small classrooms. The B wing, perhaps the most notable of the three, holds several large lecture halls and is currently under construction.
Most people are aware of this addition (it’s kind of hard to miss the giant cranes). Most people are also aware of Morrill Hall’s numbered days. However, few realize the connection between these two facts. When Morrill is torn down next year, three departments (English, History, and Religious Studies) will be without a home they’ve had for many years. Luckily, their offices and classrooms will be moved to those additional stories being added on to the B wing.
- How could I post an entire piece about Wells Hall and not mention the Wells Hall preacher? Ever wonder why those religious zealots are always in the same courtyard between Wells, International Center, and Erickson? The truth is that those people are actually confined there as it’s the only legal place on campus where that type of protest and solicitation can occur.
- All three Wells Halls are named for the same man - H.G. Wells. No, not the science fiction author. Hezekiah Griffith Wells (what a name!) was the first president of the state’s Board of Agriculture and played a part in the founding of the university.
- The lecture halls in the B wing are all pretty big. The largest is B108, with 622 seats, making it the largest lecture hall on MSU’s campus. The next largest lecture hall has 605.
A gold star for whoever can name that lecture hall’s location. Can you name it?