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Wallpaper Wednesday takes a campus tour

November 23, 2011

Click for full size, right click to download. (Photos by Kenneth Bailey)

OK, really only a small part of campus, the southern end.

The Ypsilanti Water Tower, listed in the National Register of Historic Places as the “Ypsilanti Water Works Stand Pipe”, was designed by William R. Coats and constructed as part of an elaborate city waterworks project that began in 1889. Located on the highest point in Ypsilanti, the tower was completed in 1890 at a cost of $21,435.63. Today the tower is an Ypsilanti landmark, known as the world’s most phallic building (Cabinet magazine, 2003). The Michigan Historic Site marker tells us more:

Day laborers constructed this water tower which was completed in 1890 at a cost of $21,435.63. The tower and the city waterworks supplied 471 customers the first year. An ordinance passed on April 14, 1898, established a yearly rate schedule. Rates were based on the number of faucets in use, the type of business that customers operated and the livestock they owned. A residence with one tap was charged $5.00; a private bathtub cost an additional $2.00. Saloon keepers paid $7.00 for one faucet, $3.00 for each additional faucet and $1.00 for each billiard table. Each cow a person owned cost $1.00. People who failed to pay their bill were subject to a $50.00 and ninety days in the county jail. Until 1956 this structure was the only water tower in the Ypsilanti water system.

…It is 147 feet high and has an 85-foot base constructed of Joliet limestone. The substructure walls taper from a thickness of forty inches at the bottom to 24 inches at the top. The reservoir holds a 250,000-gallon steel tank. To protect themselves from injury, the builders made three stone crosses; one is visible over the west door. [The other external cross is a hard-to-spot Greek cross on the east side, and there is at least one cross on the inside.] The Ypsilanti Community Utilities Authority has operated and maintained the structure since 1974. In 1975 this tower was designated by the American Water Works Association as an American Water Landmark. It was restored in 1976.

Starkweather Hall is the oldest building still standing on EMU’s campus. Originally built for the Student Christian Association by a local philanthropist, Mrs. Starkweather, the building is designed in the Richardsonian Romanesque style. Eventually the building was given to the university and has housed various academic offices and programs. Today, the building is home to the Honors College. In parts of the building, the original doorknobs remain, bearing the initials “SCA” for the Student Christian Association. Starkweather Hall was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. Welch Hall (opened 3 days after Starkweather), McKenny Hall, and Sherzer Hall all sit near Starkweather Hall, and the four buildings make up the Eastern Michigan University Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Pease Auditorium, designed by Smith Hinchman & Grylls and built in 1914, is the fourth oldest surviving building on Eastern Michigan University’s campus. Today Pease is home to the university’s music performances and as well as some performing arts productions. Pease is frequently used by campus speakers, multicultural performances and used for Greek Week by fraternities and sororities. Pease also hosts many events held by the community.

McKenny Hall, previously called McKenny Union and Charles McKenny Union, was designed by Detroit architect Frank Eurich Jr. in the collegiate gothic style with some art deco features. Construction began on November 8, 1930, and the building was dedicated on October 24, 1931. Named for Charles McKenny, who served from 1912 to 1933 as president of the school, McKenny Union was the first student union on the campus of a teachers’ college. President McKenny originally proposed the idea for a student union in 1924 and by 1928, the school had pledges totaling $350,000; however, due to the 1929 stock market crash and the Great Depression, only $130,000 was actually collected by 1930, leading to a change in the design.In 1937, the State of Michigan took control of bond repayment, drawing funds from student fees. In 1963, an expansion by the architectural firm of Jickling & Lyman of Birmingham began, and the enlarged union, featuring a bookstore in the basement and a bowling alley, was rededicated on April 30, 1966. From 1992 to early 1993, the union was again renovated, adding a new roof, a first floor bookstore, a loading dock, a passenger elevator, a bank, a food court, and barrier-free access. In 2006, McKenny Union was closed for another renovation. A new student center opened on campus that November, and since reopening McKenny Hall now contains career services,human resources, and veteran services offices, as well as occasionally hosting events and meetings in the ballroom.

Designed by Ypsilanti architect R.S. Gerganoff, Pierce Hall was constructed in 1948 and is named after John D. Pierce, the first State Superintendent of Instruction (1836-41). When constructed the building was used for English, Speech, Mathematics, and Education. Pierce Hall was dedicated as part of the centennial celebrations of Michigan State Normal College in 1949. The residents of Ypsilanti donated the money to construct the 120-foot tower. This was in tradition of Old Pierce Hall. In June 1950 the school installed the Alumni Memorial Chimes. The chimes were donated by the alumni and dedicated to those who died in World War II. Today the building houses Student Services, including records and registration, financial aid, student business services, and the main admissions office.

(Building descriptions drawn partially from Wikipedia, particularly “List of Eastern Michigan University buildings“.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 23, 2011 11:57 am

    I am going to have to do another tour of campus one of these days. I wanted to include a picture of Sherzer in the mix but I didn’t have one that I liked. There are some pretty interesting buildings on EMU’s campus though. There are also some pretty interesting sculptures and I may decide to make a wallpaper of that some day. I don’t really find the dorms all that interesting though.

    • November 23, 2011 12:55 pm

      I think a front-on shot of Sherzer in the winter would be nice. Something like this ( ) but without the leaves blocking the view (and not crooked). If you could catch that with a fresh snowfall that would really be picturesque! As for residence halls, I do like the paired halls (Brown/Munson, Jones/Goddard, and King/Goodison) that were built from the late 1930s through the early 1950s. I think Jones/Goddard, in its semi-abandonded state, could be a photo project all by itself (especially if you could get inside!). Briggs Hall is another interesting one, because of the athletics connection.

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